“We love you Freddie, cos you’ve got red hair.” Freddie Ljungberg an all time favourite.

Freddie Ljungberg was born on 16 April 1977 in Sweden and was spotted as a remarkable footballing talent from very early on,  as well as being noted for his ability in other sports.  Unlike many footballers he was also academically gifted, and started taking a degree, but then football took over.

Ljungberg made his debut for Halmstads on 23 October 1994 and was signed by Arsenal in 1998 for £3m.  It is said that Arsène Wenger had never seen him play when he signed him – but just saw him on TV.   The story however does not ring true in terms of the full picture, given the intense detail that Mr Wenger normally goes in.   Mr Wenger may not have seen Freddie, but he will have watched hours of video footage of Freddie and had numerous scouting reports.   Ljungberg repaid the faith by scoring within seconds of coming on against Manchester United in his debt on 20 September 1998.

Freddie was everything that Mr Wenger goes for – a man who loved football and who was always full of enthusiasm and hard work.  He was one of the midfielders who always seemed to drop back a little too much, but would then run in from that position.  With Pires playing in front of him out wide or drifiting into the middle or Bergkamp always finding positions to exploit, it was the perfect combination.  Indeed when Pires got his awful injury, Ljungberg simply slotted into his role.

And of course he had red hair, and his own perfect song to match.

There are so many things to say about Freddie’s time at Arsenal, not least that he was the first man to score a Cup Final goal outside England (at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff), and a penalty in the shootout 2005 final and  beyond everything he was an Invincible in the 49 run.But he got injured a lot, and also apparently suffered from severe migraines.  Mind you he didn’t always help himself – he got blood poisoning from his tattoos at one stage and it was thought he might have cancer.  He didn’t.

  Club Games Goals
1994–1998 Halmstads BK 79 10
1998–2007 Arsenal 216 46
2007–2008 West Ham United 25 2
2009–2010 Seattle Sounders FC 37 2
2010 Chicago Fire 15 2
2011 Celtic 7 0
2011–2012 Shimizu S-Pulse 8 0
Total   387 62

On 23 July 2007 he was sold to West Ham – a side that he captained.  But after a set of injuries he left just one year into his contract and then we had all the “spotted in” games the papers love.  He was spotted in LA, so he was going to play there (no he was going to get a tottoo).  He was going to Lazio, Monaco, everywhere, but he signed for no one and the transfer window closed, but he still kept on “being seen” and “being seen with.”

On 28 October 2008 Seattle Sounders signed him and he made an impact before going in for surgery on a hip injury.

From there he moved to Chicago and on 27 December 2010, Ljungberg joined Celtic and signed a short term contract, and in 2011 played briefly in Japan.  On 24 August 2012, Ljungberg announced his retirement from football.

Since then all has been quiet – we await the next development.

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