Coming off a frustrating season on the club scene with Manchester City, in which he lost his first team place, Andreas Isaksson has found regular football again at UEFA Champions League regulars and Dutch powerhouses PSV Eindhoven. After a stellar showing patrolling his defence and securing a clean sheet against Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie, the Sweden No1 took time to speak exclusively to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Andreas, you have played in a few countries during your career. What languages do you speak? Have you learned Dutch yet to communicate with your teammates?
Andreas Isaksson: Other then Swedish obviously, I can speak English and also French from my years with Rennes. My Dutch is not very good however, I can say a few words to give directions on the field, like left, right or tell my defence to move forward, but that is as far as it goes for now. Almost everyone on the team speaks good English so we can understand each other like that. And on the field there has not been problem with communication so far. Football is football so the game does not change, everyone knows their job on the field and it makes communication easy.
How is the game in the Netherlands different from England?
For players the game is different in England because it is played at a higher pace throughout the 90 minutes and is more physical. Also, the Premier League has more money then most if not all clubs in Holland so they have the opportunity to bring senior internationals from all over the world, making the level of the league better. As a goalkeeper I can't say much because I have only played two games in the league here. But I think maybe it is more physical in England for a goalkeeper as well and you get challenged more.
You had your first taste of Champions League football this year, was that special to you?
It was very special for me because as a player you always dream to play in the Champions League, it is the best club competition in the world. It is a competition every player wants to play in and it is no different for me.
What are your expectations as a team for this year's Champions League? Will getting to the knockout phase be considered a success or are you aiming to progress further?
First, we will look to get to the knockout phase. That is our first goal, although we know it will be very tough. Every team is good and we were drawn in a very tough group with Atletico Madrid, Marseille and Liverpool. All those teams are very good and have very good players so we are first trying to get past the group and then we will take it one game at a time. As I said, it is a tough group so it will be a success to qualify for the knockout stage, but we are only thinking about getting out of this very tough group and then we will see how much further we can go.
What made you choose PSV over some other teams that were interested in your signature?
PSV is one of the best clubs in Europe, with more than 10 years' experience of playing in the Champions League. The offer was good and, for me, playing in Holland is also a very good experience. Now I am playing every week. From the moment you arrive in Eindhoven, you see that this is a top club. I think I made a good decision coming.
How have you adapted to life off the field so far?
Living in the Netherlands is very similar to Sweden in terms of the people and the way of life. I have also the experience living in Italy and England. The city of Eindhoven is quite nice, it's easy to adapt here and having lived in different countries and culture helps in that.
There has been a few upsets so far in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying. What are Sweden's expectations for this preliminary campaign?
It is true there have been many upsets already. We drew 0-0 in our first game against Albania and most people seen that as an unexpected result. But we have done well to qualify for the last few World Cups and European Championships and we know that every game will be tough. We will take it one game at a time but we think we have a good team and can make it to the World Cup.
You are widely considered as one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe. What keeper do you look up to most at the moment?
[Gianluigi] Buffon. He was and still is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.