IFK Göteborg and their slightly forgotten 90’s Champions League heroic adventures

Swedish club IFK Göteborg had a glorious 80’s, winning the UEFA Cup twice in 1982 and 1987. They had some great players back then who later became professionals and successful in other major clubs in Europe.

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Sweden’s national team had a glorious 1994 World Cup winning the bronze, but few recognized the fact that seven of the players in the Swedish squad all played for IFK Göteborg. They later found greatness all over Europe and transfers of players happened based mostly on what was achieved in the World Cup.

In 1992/93 IFK Göteborg reached the group finals and finished secoand after AC Milan winning both games against PSV Eindhoven and at home to FC Porto, is slightly forgotten, but for always results in the record books  group stages of the Semi-Finals and the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League during the 90’s, might be a key to a lot of it, despite overlooked and almost never mentioned by most.

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The two seasons, 1992/93 and 1994/95 became something of an heroic act by the Swedes and they made some astonishing results on the way.

The 1992/93 team reached the group stages and with todays system would have been on the way to the final stages. IFK defeating clubs such as Besiktas and Lech Poznan in the preliminary rounds, and in the group stages PSV Eindhoven and FC Porto had to see the Swedes in front of them in the table with AC Milan cruising on top and reaching the final, playing Marseille.

In the 1992/93 team Johnny Ekström was the star, and he scored some sensational goals. Thomas Ravelli the goalkeeper, he later became a big hero when the national team won a penalty shoot out v. Romania in the 1994 World Cup. But he was there keeping some of the giants in Europe quiet even a few year earlier.

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Pontus Kåmark, Stefan Rehn and Håkan Mild are other players that all were established Swedish internationals at the time and had allready a wealth of experience. Stefan Rehn had previously been tested by Everton, but was “send home” to IFK Göteborg after only four league games for The Toffees.

In the 1994/95 campaign of the Champions League, they first defeated Sparta Prague in the qualification round. Then they drew Barcelona, Man Utd and Galatasaray, and sensationally ended on top in front of Barcelona. Great home wins against everyone and an away victory in Turkey made it possible to yet again upset the giants of Europe. The OGS’s, Mourinho’s and Van Gaal’s would probably have lost their jobs and been seen as “big idiots” had such results happened today, but Sir Alex Ferguson escaped this one in total silence, or as we can say, forgotten and berried.

This time IFK Gøteborg reached a proper “quarter final” and came up against Bayern Munich. They fought as real vikings would do, but 2-2 at home and a 0-0 draw away wasn’t enough, and instead Bayern went through and played the Semi’s v. Ajax who later went on to win the “big trophy” after a battle v. AC Milan.

Magnus Erlingmark netted four goals in the tournament, but strangely never played outside Sweden, showing his loyalty to IFK being part of their setup until 2004. He was often seen as captained and played 37 times for the national team. Jesper Blomqvist was a young and rising star in the team and he had climbed like a “Jamie Vardy” from the lower leagues of Swedish football into this inferno of a Champions League campaign.

Jesper played for a number great clubs in Europe, including AC Milan, Manchester United and Everton. He also played for Sweden in the 1994 World Cup. His career was interrupted by a number of injuries, but as we all know winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with Manchester United.

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The unique and glorious set up was established with only Swedes in the 1994/95 squad and behind it all the coach Roger Gustafsson who just kept a low profile and today works in the academy set up at the club. He left the coaching role in 1995 and had a short come back at the club in 2002, but he never used the success to become a coach or manager abroad. He is to date the best performing manager in the Allsvenskan, winning the title four times. IFK also won the Swedish cup together with two great achievements in the Champions League.

Sven Göran “Svennis” Eriksson made the most out of his life at IFK Göteborg a decade before and became one of the best managers in Europe,  and of course the national coach of England, but to date it might have been an ever bigger achievement to do so well in the Champions League and certainly that is not mentioned in the same sentences and strangely forgotten for most.

 

 

 

 

 

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