- Hedvig Lindahl featuring in her fifth and possibly last World Cup
- Sweden goalkeeper pivotal in team’s run to the semi-finals
- "We aren’t content with being among the four best. That says a lot.”
By Alexandra Jonson with Sweden
In 2003 a 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper sat on the bench as Sweden won silver at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in USA. Sixteen years, four more World Cups and 19 World Cup appearances later, Hedvig Lindahl is now about to play what is likely to be her final match on football’s biggest stage.
A Final would have seen her come full-circle but instead her 20th match will now be a battle for bronze but it is one she is determined to win.
“This was not how it was suppose to end,” Lindahl told FIFA when asked how she had been feeling after the final whistle in Lyon. “It wasn’t the third place match we were suppose to play. It was the Final. I got so angry because this was my last chance.”
Lindahl has been one of the biggest heroes in Sweden’s success story in France, a penalty save in the Round of 16 made sure they overcame Canada. Then on Wednesday she again made several world class saves in the semi-final against the Netherlands, a performance that just made the defeat even more difficult to take.
But the next day brought a new focus. “You can’t be angry about something you can no longer change,” she said. ”You just have to accept it.
“Now you try to put yourself into the feelings of what it would be like to end fourth, and that’s something you really don’t want to experience. After all this time away from my family, after all the preparations we’ve done for this tournament. I’m getting that medal, that’s it.”
Since experiencing her first World Cup from the sidelines in 2003, Lindahl has now played in four herself, winning bronze in 2011. She’s been named the goalkeeper of the year in Sweden on seven occasions and the best female football player in the country twice.
On Wednesday, Lindahl also surpassed Therese Sjogran as the Swedish player who has played in the most Women's World Cup matches.
“It’s make me happy, it’s proof that I’ve worked hard, long and with passion. But it’s a record that’s there to be broken [by someone else] and we’ll see if it can be done.”
Even if their performance in France have surprised many, there was a genuine dream and belief in the Swedish squad that they could go all the way.
“It felt like this was our year to go to the Final and the fact that we are upset not to be there, is in a way fascinating. We are ranked ninth in the world but we aren’t content with being among the four best. That says a lot. I know no matter what happens people at home are proud of us, but we want to do ourselves justice and win that bronze.”
Saturday’s third-place match against England in Nice will likely be Hedvig Lindahl's last big World Cup match, and it’s a story that deserves to end with tears of happiness, rather than those of sadness on display in Lyon.