Sweden’s wanderer relishing Marta reunion
Though still just 26, Sofia Jakobsson boasts a wealth and variety of top-level experience that few in women’s football can match.
For Sweden, that has been gained wearing the yellow shirt at Olympic Football Tournaments, UEFA European Championships and both junior and senior FIFA Women’s World Cups. Yet it is her career at club level that is especially and unusually diverse, with the speedy striker having already starred in the top flights of France, Germany, England, Russia and her homeland.
“It was never my plan to go to so many different countries,” she told FIFA.com. “It just happened that way. As a personality though, I do enjoy seeing and experiencing new things, meeting new people – none of that fazes me. I make friends quite easily and I always try to see the positives in every situation. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every one of those countries and that I developed a lot both as a person and as a footballer.
“That said, I knew it wasn't ideal for me to be moving clubs and countries almost every year. Fortunately I’ve played with Montpelliier for two seasons now and will stay for at least another season, so maybe I’ve finally found a home. France definitely feels like home for me right now. I like my team, I like the league, so I’m hoping to stay for a few years.
“But in the future, who knows? I could see myself going back to England, where the league is progressing a lot, or to Germany. And USA is always interesting.”
While the American top flight may be the last of the elite leagues she has yet to experience, Jakobsson has a far more pressing entry on her to-do list. Ticking off a major international trophy, something which has consistently eluded Sweden despite several final and semi-final appearances, remains a burning ambition. And with Rio 2016 beckoning, Jakobsson believes an end to their long wait could well be in sight.
“I think we have a really good squad,” she said. “It could be our year for the EURO in 2017 and I also think we can have a really good Olympics. We’re all really excited about going to a competition like this in a country that loves football so much. And the fact we have Brazil in our group makes it extra exciting.”
For the Montpellier forward, that meeting with the hosts will also reunite her with a notable former team-mate. Marta was Umea’s star player and midway through her run of five straight FIFA Women’s World Player awards when a youthful Jakobsson was breaking through at the Swedish side.
“She had been a big role model for me as a young girl, so to then go on and play with her for a season-and-a-half was fantastic,” said the Swede. “At that stage, she was at her very best and it was such an education for me to watch and play with her. With her technique and speed, she could do anything she wanted on the field. I still think she’s the best player in the world.
“I wanted to be like her but of course I didn’t have all the same attributes. It’s like a men’s player wanting to be like Messi – you can’t copy someone like that. But she was definitely a great help to me, really supportive, and gave me some tips that definitely helped a lot as I started out.”
Another educational experience from which Jakobsson benefited massively around the same time was the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She starred as Sweden topped their section only to lose in the last eight to Colombia – a team she would help the senior side eliminate the very next year.
“It was fantastic to play a World Cup at such a young age,” she recalled. “To do it in Germany too, where women’s football is so big and well supported, made it even better. And it was a good tournament for both me and the team.
“I think that playing well there definitely helped me get selected for the senior World Cup the following year. A few of us in that team showed we could play at a high level, and that made an impression. It also gave us a taste for it. After you play in competitions like that, you just want more.”
Jakobsson will experience the latest of many such major events in Rio, and has high hopes of returning home with a medal. And if Sweden are to reach - or top - the podium, the skill and experience of this most well-travelled of strikers is sure to be vital.