When the final whistle sounded on Sweden’s match against Germany at the Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, Therese Sjogran sank to the ground. It was not only a reaction to her side’s 4-1 defeat and ensuing elimination from the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ in the Round of 16, but also to the fact that it was the last game of a career that had spanned almost two decades. Her disappointment was still tangible when she met FIFA.com for an interview almost an hour later.
“There wasn’t much going on in the changing room and the atmosphere was awful,” said the 38-year-old afterwards, her eyes red. “Obviously we’re very disappointed but Germany played well today. Now we have to go home. At the moment I can’t really think straight. I definitely have a lot of wonderful memories of my career but it’s a sad day today. The thing I’m saddest about is the way it’s ended.”
It was almost indicative of her career that Sjogran should bow out after defeat to Germany, as she has suffered several bitter disappointments at their hands over the years. Sweden’s No15 was involved in losses in the finals of the 2001 European Championship and the 2003 Women’s World Cup, as well as the more recent semi-final defeat at UEFA EURO 2013 on home turf.
“I wouldn’t say they’re a bogey team for us but they have blocked our path at a lot of major tournaments and they knocked us out again today,” she said wistfully. “Of course they’re not a team we really wanted to face. They do respect us a lot but they just have this winning mentality against us.”
Signing off with an assist
Sjogran, Sweden’s most-capped player of all time with 214 appearances, admitted that the Scandinavians only had themselves to blame for being handed such a tough draw after finishing third in Group D. She added that Germany were simply too strong and started well by scoring two first half goals.
The 5’6” midfielder helped give her side a glimmer of hope in the 82nd minute when her pinpoint free-kick found Linda Sembrant, who headed in to reduce the deficit to 3-1 and give Sjogran at least one positive memory of her final outing. “That might cheer me up at some point but not today,” she said, glancing down at the matchball from the game she had been given as a souvenir to mark the end of her career. “When I look back on the match that assist is something I can be proud of.”
Asked for the highlight of her time in Sweden’s yellow and blue colours, Sjogran was quick to respond, offering a hint of a smile for the first time: “The 2011 World Cup when we won the bronze medal. That was a great moment.”
Sjogran participated at four Women’s World Cups and made 18 tournament appearances - more than any of her compatriots. Alongside that third-place finish four years ago, she helped Sweden finish as runners-up at the 2003 finals, although they exited at the group stage in 2007. And though she will now hang up her boots for good she will remain active in the game, taking on the role of sporting director at her current club FC Rosengard from 1 August 2015. Nevertheless, her experience, drive and fighting spirit will be sorely missed out on the pitch.
As she left, Sjogran had a parting message for Germany, the side that had thwarted her so often over the years: “I hope they win the trophy.”