Olof Mellberg

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Olof Mellberg
Olof Mellberg'13.JPG
Mellberg with F.C. Copenhagen in October 2013
Personal information
Full name Erik Olof Mellberg
Date of birth (1977-09-03) 3 September 1977 (age 43) [1]
Place of birth Gullspång, Sweden
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Position(s) Defender
Youth career
1994–1996 Gullspångs IF
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1996–1997 Degerfors IF 47 (0)
1997–1998 AIK 17 (0)
1998–2001 Racing Santander 98 (0)
2001–2008 Aston Villa 232 (8)
2008–2009 Juventus 27 (2)
2009–2012 Olympiacos 71 (7)
2012–2013 Villarreal 29 (2)
2013–2014 Copenhagen 22 (3)
Total543(22)
National team
1996–1999 Sweden U21 27 (4)
2000–2012 Sweden 117 (8)
Teams managed
2015–2017 IF Brommapojkarna
2019 Fremad Amager
2019–2020 Helsingborgs IF
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Erik Olof Mellberg (pronounced  [ˈûːlɔf ˈmɛ̂lːbærj] ; born 3 September 1977) is a Swedish football manager and former professional player. During his career, Mellberg played as a defender, and is best known for his time at Aston Villa, as well as spells with Juventus and Greek side Olympiacos. Mellberg played for Sweden in the 2002 World Cup and 2006 World Cup, as well as the Euro 2000, Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. A former captain of the national team, he scored 8 goals in 117 caps between 2000 and 2012.

Contents

Early years

Erik Olof Mellberg was born in Gullspång, Sweden on 3 September 1977 to parents Berit and Erik. Mellberg's mother Berit was a physical education teacher who passed on her love of sport to her son. [2] As a youth, Mellberg enjoyed playing tennis and dreamed of Wimbledon rather than the World Cup. Mellberg was something of a tennis prodigy [3] and it was not until he was 14 that Mellberg began to focus on football. [2]

Club career

Early career

Mellberg played for local side Gullspång before being picked up by then Swedish Premiership side Degerfors IF. After being relegated he joined capital club AIK, where he made an instant impression, became Swedish champion 1998 and was sold after just 10 months. Spanish side Racing Santander moved to secure the promising Swedish centre half, and although having a difficult time adjusting to Spanish football he soon claimed a starting berth and impressed in his first season. Continuing to play well, Mellberg was said to be on his way to several big Spanish sides, including Barcelona and Valencia.

Aston Villa

Playing for Aston Villa. Mellberg, Olof.jpg
Playing for Aston Villa.

However, Aston Villa managed to secure his signature and he became a consistent and vital part of the team. [4] Mellberg was left out of boss David O'Leary's first side for a game against Portsmouth, but was soon made the captain of the English giants for the rest of his reign. Mellberg was a vital part of the team that finished 6th in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup in O'Leary's first season. Mellberg resigned as captain following the 2006 World Cup—he was replaced by Gareth Barry. In 2007 the new manager of Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill, continued to consider Mellberg as the first choice centre back. On the opening day of the 2006–07 Premiership season Mellberg became the first person to score in a competitive game at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium. [5] During the 2007–08 season, he played at the right back position following the purchase of Zat Knight, who played alongside Martin Laursen at centre back. Mellberg was sent off against Portsmouth on 15 March 2008 for two bookable offences.

In January 2008 it was announced that Mellberg had signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus. His final home game for Aston Villa was against Wigan Athletic on 3 May. The game was designated as "Olof Mellberg" day in appreciation of his service to the club. On his final game for Aston Villa away at West Ham United, as a leaving gift, Mellberg gave every single Villa fan at Upton Park either a home or an away shirt with his name and number on the back and the message Thanks 4 Your Support – being the number 4 of Aston Villa. [6] He also said he would frame the kit which he used on his last ever Aston Villa game – the game against West Ham. [6] To this day Mellberg is very highly thought of and respected by Aston Villa supporters as one of their greatest ever players.

Juventus

From right to left: Mellberg, Tiago Mendes and Giorgio Chiellini celebrates for Juventus in 2009 Juventus v Chievo, 5 April 2009 - Chiellini, Tiago and Mellberg.jpg
From right to left: Mellberg, Tiago Mendes and Giorgio Chiellini celebrates for Juventus in 2009

In January 2008 it was confirmed that Mellberg had signed a pre-contract agreement with Italian giants Juventus, allowing him a Bosman move to Serie A on a three-year contract for the start of the 2008–09 season. He made his Juventus debut on 16 July 2008 in a friendly match versus Serie B outfit, Piacenza. Juventus surprisingly lost the match 1–0. On 18 January 2009, Mellberg scored his first goal for Juventus against Lazio in the 30th minute. [7]

Olympiacos

On 23 June 2009, it was confirmed that Mellberg agreed with Olympiacos to sign a three-year contract with the club. Olympiacos paid Juventus €2.5 million for the Swede's signature. [8] Despite the rotation of several managers in the club while there, he was always a constant in the central defence and his consistency and experience proved to be invaluable for Olympiakos. Thanks to his passionate play and high professionalism, he has become a fan favourite – to the point that when Olympiakos had a streak of bad games, Mellberg was always the only player who was spared from criticism – and one of the most highly respected players in Greece.

Mellberg turned down a new deal at the end of the 2011–12 season to extend his time in Athens, hoping to find a new challenge with his agent saying, "...we don't close any doors." [9]

Villarreal

On 8 August 2012, Mellberg signed a one-year contract with Spanish club Villarreal. [10] Mellberg appeared 29 times for Villareal in Spanish Segunda División, scoring twice, and was an important part of the squad that finished second in Segunda División and was promoted to La Liga.

FC Copenhagen and retirement

On 9 July 2013, Mellberg signed a two-year contract with Danish champions FC Copenhagen, but left after one season.

Mellberg retired in summer 2014. [11]

International career

Mellberg playing for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012. Olof Mellberg Euro 2012 vs France.jpg
Mellberg playing for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012.

Mellberg made his debut against Austria in March 2000. [12]

During an open team practice before the 2002 World Cup, Mellberg broke into a fight with his teammate former Arsenal winger Freddie Ljungberg after a robust tackle from Mellberg. [13] The two of them were quickly separated by teammates. Since then, the two of them have been known for not being the best of friends, and in the 2006 World Cup, Mellberg and Ljungberg, according to leak from inside the team, had a very fiery argument, after Sweden's draw with Trinidad and Tobago. [14] In 2003, he was selected as the best Swedish player of the year, winning the Guldbollen. [15]

During the penalty shoot-out after the Euro 2004 quarter-final against Netherlands, Mellberg has a penalty saved by Edwin van der Sar, as the Netherlands won the shoot-out 5–4 and advanced to the semi-finals. [16]

During a 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Croatia in October 2005, Mellberg boxed the ball away with his hand in the Swedish penalty area. Croatia were awarded a penalty kick for this, which Dario Srna scored, and Sweden lost the match 0-1.

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Mellberg relinquished his captaincy and Ljungberg took his place as Sweden captain.

On 4 September 2006, Mellberg, along with Sweden teammates Zlatan Ibrahimović and Christian Wilhelmsson, was sent home from the national squad for breaking an 11 pm team curfew ahead of a European Championships qualifier against Liechtenstein. [17] On 7 October 2006, Mellberg returned to Sweden's lineup for their European Championships qualifier against Spain, which they won 2–0. [18] In the 2012 European Championships, Mellberg was involved in two goals in their match against England in the group stages to give Sweden a 2–1 lead, however, Sweden went on to lose 2–3 [19] while Mellberg became "Man of the Match". [20] After the tournament, Mellberg decided to end his international career. [11]

Style of play

During his career, Mellberg primarily played as a central defender or right-back, although he was also capable of playing in a holding role in midfield on occasion. In a Sports Illustrated profile in the lead-up to Euro 2012, he was described as being "big, strong and exceptional in the air", [21] while a BBC profile ahead of the 2002 World Cup noted that "[h]e pressures attackers superbly and rarely comes off second best in a challenge." [22] Regarded as a promising defender in his youth, he later made a name for himself as a solid, dependable, and hard-tackling centre-back. Although he was not very fast, he was strong, and had an excellent positional sense, and was also a good header of the ball, which made him a goal-threat on set-pieces. [7] [23] [24]

Managerial career

IF Brommapojkarna

Mellberg was appointed manager of Swedish club IF Brommapojkarna in November 2015, signing a two year-contract [25] and taking over following their recent relegation to the third tier of Swedish football.

Brommapojkarna won the Division 1 title during Mellberg's first season in charge and won their second successive promotion the following year, in October 2017, to return to the top flight, Allsvenskan. After the season, Mellberg chose not to renew his expiring contract with Brommapojkarna. [26]

Fremad Amager

On 1 July 2019 Fremad Amager announced, that Mellberg had joined the club as their new manager. [27] Mellberg was reinforced with Azrudin Valentić, who he worked with in Brommapojkarna and who until the arrival of Mellberg, was the manager of the club. With the access of Mellberg, the club changed the structure of the sporting staff, with Mellberg becoming manager and Azrudin Valentić becoming the first team coach.

Helsingborgs IF

After only two months in charge of Fremad Amager, the club announced that Mellberg had left the club to become the manager of Helsingborgs IF. [28]

Personal life

Mellberg has two children with long term partner Carolina Kihl. Daughter Saga was born in December 2002 and son John was born in July 2006.

Mellberg and Kihl married in Sweden on 13 July 2013.

According to Mellberg's mother, he is considering attending university after his retirement. [29]

Career statistics

Club

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeagueNational CupLeague CupContinentalTotal
DivisionAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Degerfors IF 1996 Allsvenskan 220220
1997 Allsvenskan250250
Total4700000470
AIK 1998 Allsvenskan17010180
Racing Santander 1998–99 La Liga 25071321
1999–2000 La Liga37030400
2000–01 La Liga36050410
Total98015100001131
Aston Villa 2001–02 Premier League 320101020360
2002–03 Premier League381102020431
2003–04 Premier League3311050391
2004–05 Premier League3031020333
2005–06 Premier League2704020330
2006–07 Premier League3810010391
2007–08 Premier League3421020372
Total232890150402608
Juventus 2008–09 Serie A 2724070382
Olympiacos 2009–10 Super League Greece 25241120413
2010–11 Super League Greece2330030263
2011–12 Super League Greece2324190363
Total71782002401039
Villarreal 2012–13 Segunda División 29200292
Copenhagen 2013–14 Danish Superliga 2231061294
Career total5432138315041163626

International

As of match played 19 June 2012 [30] [31]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National teamYearAppsGoals
Sweden 2000100
200190
2002110
2003101
2004130
200581
200690
200792
200890
2009113
201050
201170
201261
Total1178

International goals

Scores and results list Sweden's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Mellberg goal. [31]
List of international goals scored by Olof Mellberg
#DateVenueOpponentScoreResultCompetition
1.10 September 2003 Silesian Stadium, Chorzów, PolandFlag of Poland.svg  Poland 2–02–0 UEFA Euro 2004 qualifier
2.3 September 2005 Råsunda Stadium, Solna, SwedenFlag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 2–03–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
3.6 June 2007Råsunda Stadium, Solna, SwedenFlag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 3–05–0 UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier
4.17 October 2007Råsunda Stadium, Solna, SwedenUlster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 1–01–1UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier
5.5 September 2009 Ferenc Puskás Stadium, Budapest, HungaryFlag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 1–02–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier
6.14 October 2009Råsunda Stadium, Solna, SwedenFlag of Albania.svg  Albania 1–04–12010 FIFA World Cup qualifier
7.3–0
8.15 June 2012 Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, Kyiv, UkraineFlag of England.svg  England 2–12–3 UEFA Euro 2012

Managerial statistics

As of match played 29 May 2021
Managerial record by team and tenure
TeamNatFromToRecordRef
GWDLGFGAGDWin %
Brommapojkarna Flag of Sweden.svg 27 November 201521 November 2017674414914058+82065.67 [32]
Fremad Amager Flag of Denmark.svg 1 July 20193 September 2019833288+0037.50 [33]
Helsingborg Flag of Sweden.svg 3 September 201931 December 202038811194161−20021.05 [34]
Total113552830189127+62048.67

Honours

Player

AIK

Aston Villa

Olympiacos

F.C. Copenhagen

Individual

Manager

Brommapojkarna

See also

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