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2001: Swedish 'Iceman' starts England job

The first foreigner to coach the England football team, Sven Goran Eriksson, has flown into the country to begin his new job.

The Swedish coach, known for his calmness under pressure and widely dubbed the Iceman, began in bullish style.

He told journalists at his first news conference that England would qualify for the World Cup next year - despite its position at the bottom of its group, below Albania, after two disastrous matches.

He told journalists he was looking forward to starting work, saying, "I realise it is going to be difficult. It is a big job and a big challenge for me which I hope to enjoy."

Unpopular decision

On the widespread unpopularity of the Football Association's decision to appoint a foreigner to run the national team, Eriksson said: "I will prove my critics wrong with good football and good results."

He acknowledged he was under pressure to deliver, and said he would be "hung" if he failed to get results. however, he said, that would be the same whatever his nationality.

"I have to defend myself with good football, good results. If results come, no-one cares about the nationality of the manager."

Eriksson has never run a national team before, although he has been a very successful club manager, including Portuguese Benfica, and Italian clubs Roma, Sampdoria and Lazio.

He has led his teams to win 18 trophies, including the Uefa Cup with IFK Gothenburg in 1982 and the European Cup Winners' Cup with Lazio in 1999.

Difficult departure

Eriksson's departure from Lazio was a difficult one. He was due to have stayed with the club until July, but the Italian club suffered a catastrophic loss of form, at one point losing six out of nine matches.

Eriksson was asked to resign, months earlier than intended, three days ago.

His first day on the job tomorrow will include a football match - West Ham United vs Sunderland at Upton Park - as a way of acquainting himself more closely with club-level football in England.

The FA had been looking for a new coach since Kevin Keegan resigned last autumn following England's disastrous defeat in the 2002 World Cup qualifier against Germany.

After a second dismal showing in the next World Cup qualifier against Finland, which England drew 0-0 in October, the team's hopes of qualifying looked increasingly forlorn.

England's first match with Eriksson in charge will be the friendly against Spain at Villa Park on 28 February.

In Context
Sven Goran Eriksson somehow turned the team around in time for crucial World Cup qualifiers in spring 2001.

England worked its way from bottom to top of its group and qualified for the 2002 World Cup. The team reached the quarter-finals of the tournament before being knocked out by the eventual winners, Brazil.

In 2003 Eriksson also led England to qualify for Euro 2004, where they were again defeated at the quarter-final stage.

Eriksson's years in the post were marked by scandal over his private life.

Newspapers revealed affairs with television presenter Ulrika Jonsson in 2002 and former Football Association secretary Faria Alam in 2004.

After England lost to Northern Ireland in September 2005, Eriksson came under intense criticism from fans and commentators alike.

In January 2006 the Football Association announced he would stand down after the World Cup, which he duly did following England's exit in July.


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