LONDON, United Kingdom- Former Arsenal FC star Freddie Ljungberg is set to return to the club to take up a new role as the coach of the u23 team in July, the club confirmed on Tuesday.
The Swede, who coached our under-15s and was assistant to the under-19 Uefa Youth League team during the 2016/17 season, left us to join Wolfsburg in 2017 and gained invaluable experience as assistant coach in the Bundesliga.
Academy manager Per Mertesacker said: “It’s great to have Freddie back at the club. He brings great footballing experience and the highest possible levels of enthusiasm, energy and encouragement for our young professionals.
“He understands the club’s values and how important it is to give young players the opportunity to grow and develop. When Freddie left for Wolfsburg it was with the club’s blessing and with a return to Arsenal some day in mind. Everyone knows Freddie loves the club and we look forward to him developing his career with us.”
Freddie made 216 appearances for the club, scoring 46 goals and winning the Premier League title twice and the Emirates FA Cup three times. He also represented Sweden 75 times. He was the Premier League Player of the Season in 2001/02.
“I’m delighted to be returning to the club,” Freddie said. “Arsenal has always been a special place for me and I’m really excited at this opportunity to work with our under-23 team.
“I look forward to working with the talented young players we have at the club. I know many of them well and will work hard to help them continue developing and become the best players and people they can be.”
It set the precedent for a man who became one of the most loved Arsenal players of the Arsène Wenger era.
For almost 10 years the Gunners’ No 8 was a devout servant to the club’s cause, epitomising his manager’s philosophy of attractive football, athleticism and enjoyment of the game.
Ljungberg shot to prominence on these shores after terrorising England in a Euro 2000 qualifier for Sweden while still plying his trade at hometown club BK Halmstad. Wenger moved quickly in securing Freddie’s services but, after his outstanding entrance against United, the Swede suffered with abdominal and ankle injuries.
However, the Gunners didn’t have to wait too long before Ljungberg’s attributes came to the fore. The midfielder was ceaseless in his running from deep, proving equally effective from both flanks and in his preferred role behind the strikers. The immaculate timing of his forays into the box made him tough to shackle and as the years progressed he developed a fine telepathy with Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires.
Ljungberg had a particular affinity with the FA Cup and became the only the third player in the history of the competition to score in consecutive finals. In 2001 he scored in the defeat by Liverpool – the first goal to be scored in an FA Cup showpiece outside England – and then grabbed one of the cup final goals as Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2-0. The following year he claimed the only goal of the semi-final victory over Sheffield United.
Ljungberg’s penchant for scoring when the stakes were at their highest continued throughout his Highbury tenure; a Champions League brace against Juventus in 2001, the winner for 10-man Arsenal at Anfield, as well as a vital strikes against Manchester United at Highbury.
As Arsenal swept aside all before them on the way to the ‘Double’ in 2002, Ljungberg was simply phenomenal, scoring on 17 occasions in all competitions. When Pires suffered a serious knee injury before the run-in, Ljungberg stepped into the Frenchman’s position and rose to the challenge. He netted six times in five games as the title race entered its final straight, clinching 15 vital points. His Player of the Season award was richly deserved.
The climax to the 2001/02 campaign was probably Ljungberg’s high-water mark at Highbury. As the years progressed, injuries became an increasing threat to Ljungberg’s game, and in 2007 the Swede left for West Ham United.
Freddie made an emotional return with his new club to the Emirates on New Year’s Day 2008 where, after injury once again cut short his afternoon, he was afforded a standing ovation as he left the pitch.
-Material used to compile this report sourced from official Arsenal FC website, read more here