Marcus Berg On IFK Göteborg, Sweden And Cup Final Heroics With Panathinaikos

Marcus Berg On IFK Göteborg, Sweden And Cup Final Heroics With Panathinaikos

An interview with Marcus Berg by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You are currently in your second spell at IFK Göteborg where you are captain. How much are you enjoying being back at the club and what does the club mean to you?

“I’m very happy and grateful to be back and have the chance to play for my club again after many years abroad.

“Even though I am not of Gothenburg origin, I have always been a fan and supporter of the club since I was a kid. Playing for this club means so much to me.”

In your first spell with the club, you won the title in 2007. What are your memories from that season? 

“It was a fantastic half of a year for me in many ways. I became a player for the starting 11 for the first time during that year.

“It was my breakthrough in football so I will never forget that.

“However, I left the club after 17 games so I missed the last games of the season and the title celebrations which was annoying.

”Despite that, it’s a great memory of a fantastic year for the club that I played my part in.”

You left Swedish football for the first time in 2007 when you signed for Groningen in the Eredivisie. You scored lots of goals and attracted attention from other clubs. What do you think was the key to your success in the Netherlands? 

”I had my breakthrough in IFK Gothenburg and interest followed me. From there, I choose to move to Groningen with big confidence because I knew that I was going to a team with great players and coaches.

“There were four Swedes in the team and that helped me a lot as settling in was not as daunting as it could have been. It was an easy move for me also outside the pitch in that regard.

“Groningen is in the north of the Netherlands and the mentality is pretty much the same as in Sweden. That was one of the key components to my success at the club.”

You played for PSV in the Netherlands on loan from Hamburg in 2010. How did your time at PSV compare with your previous spell in the Netherlands?

“I joined PSV on loan for one season and to be honest, it was not the best time for me personally.

”I was adapting to a new style of playing as a single striker which was different to what I had been used to before.

”In one sense, it was a good lesson for my game to handle a new role however in another sense, I believe that it could have been better!

”I also experienced frustration with injury for the first time and the first operation of my career after that season because of long-time problems with my right hip. That did not help either.”

You won the Greek cup with Panathinaikos in 2014 scoring a hat trick in the final. What a special moment. What are your memories of that day? 

“That was such a special moment for me and everyone at Panathinaikos. The final itself was a fantastic night with a full Olympic stadium in Athens between two big teams — ourselves and PAOK Thessaloniki.

”Thankfully, we played a great game and were able to win 4-1

“To score a hat trick in such an important game was probably one of my best performances in a single game that I have ever played.

“It is such a fantastic memory that I enjoy looking back on because winning a title in that manner as a team with a strong individual performance is what dreams are all about.”

With Sweden, you have played at a World Cup and two European championships. What does representing your country mean to you and what are your personal highlights from your time with the national team?

“To play for, my country, Sweden is the highlight of my career. It is the pinnacle for any footballer.

“I am fortunate to have had the chance to represent my country for many years, in important games and in the biggest tournaments.

“It gives me goosebumps when I even think about it!

”Of course, playing at the World Cup 2018 in Russia where we made it to the quarterfinals is the main highlight of my time with the National Team.”

You are 36 but still scoring goals, have you thought about becoming a coach in future or do you want to play for as long as you can? 

“I will try and play as long as I can, until my body stops me. After that we’ll see, I think that I will probably take some coaching courses in future.”

Finally, Marcus, who are the best players that you have played with and your toughest opponents? 

“The best players I played with are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ze Roberto and Michael Essien. All world-class at their respective roles.

“In terms of my toughest opponents, I would have to say Sergio Ramos and Virgil Van Dijk. Two incredible defenders who have had great careers.”