FAWSL / NWSLInterviews

Hedvig Lindahl Interview

Full Name: Rut Hedvig Lindahl
Date of Birth: 29th of April 1983
Age: Soon 32
Place of Birth: Katrineholm, Sweden
Nationality: Swedish
Height: 1.78 cm
Current Club: Chelsea Ladies & Sweden
Previous Clubs: Baggetorps IF, DFK Värmbol, Tunafors SK, Malmo FF, Linköpings FC, Kopparberg / Göteborg FC & Kristianstads DFF

What football club do you support?
Recently Chelsea (obviously) but the club in my heart is dad’s former club in Sweden, IFK Norrköping.

Since moving from the Swedish league to the FAWSL and joining Chelsea what differences have you noticed? Have you found it easy to adjust?
Quite easy since the team has been very welcoming. The differences is that it is tougher in England and add better technique on many players. Sweden might have a higher tempo in some games, but I haven’t really gained enough experience to really tell yet.

Chelsea’s male team have a huge reputation for being Champions and some of the best players in the world at present, is there any added pressure from being under the Chelsea name and do you ever link in with the male squad?
The pressure is on to win, for sure. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be in Chelsea. So far I have not had anything to do with the men, but I know are getting the same treatment in some aspects. More aspects will follow as our business gain more and more respect.

Where do you see Chelsea finishing this year and did you have any pre-season aims as a club and individual for where you want to finish?
It would be great if we can take that final step this season, we certainly have a good chance to do it. I know my personal goals are in line with the clubs.

The women’s game seems to keep growing and growing, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
I notice that there are finally enough coverage of the game so that I can’t follow each channel. That is an improvement and a very good one!

How big do you think the female game will get to? Do you ever see it rivaling the Men’s game?
Why not? Or, why not work together and make it the biggest and most admirable sport for real?

How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I was 4. Not only a goalkeeper, I was a good striker as well. Played both as a field player and a goalkeeper until I was maybe 15 years old (but most as a goalkeeper).

What was the women’s football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
Where I lived not to many girls played on a regular basis. Some went to the football schools in the summers but quickly dropped out. I played with the boys for many years and they truly accepted having me on the team. Some opponents made stupid comments but I always got my back covered by my boys. My parents were always supportive and helped me reach my dreams – to become a professional footballer for one – even if there were rarely being done back then.

Where and when did you get your big break?
I was picked for the national team in the summer of 1998, when I attended a camp for my age group. Before that I’d already made my way into sort of the council team but when the national team picked me it got me to another level. Moving to my first elite team (Malmö FF) in 2001 was a very important step as well, and when I got to play for the full team of Sweden in 2002 the career was going great. But it wasn’t until the Euro in England 2005 that I actually took the first goalkeeper role.

Hedvig Lindahl Chelsea and Sweden Goalkeeper

Did you face any obstacles along the way, ever think you weren’t going to make it to where you are now and if so how did you get past the obstacles?
I have had doubts my whole career, sometimes bigger or smaller.

Who was your biggest influence growing up?
I think it was my dad. We would always talk about my games and discuss football. My dad used to play for a team called IFK Norrköping. He played in the highest league in Sweden in the late 70’s.

How do you prepare for a big game?
I make sure I eat good enough and that I have had enough water. It doesn’t have to be the same kind of food every time but I do prefer to make sure I have proper meals and set times for the meals. Other than that I prepare by learning about the opposition and our own game play.

Any tips on warm-ups?
Make sure you cover all the aspects of your game. Other than that it is just about being creative and try different approaches and find what makes you happy. I am usually fine with changing it, I am not so stuck on a certain routine.

Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
No, not really. I used to try different stuff, mainly because my teammates did, but I am happy to be free from that kind of rubbish.

What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
It’s a lot about keeping engaged in the play. Keep talking to the defence line, keeping a position close to the team (without getting scored on of course) and creating the feeling that your movement and your communication prevents the opposition to create any chances. If you play a superior opponent you will be busy by nature…

What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
Very important! Some years more important than others, as I think it is intertwined with self confidence. Right now I play with Ergonomic Bionik x-change due to me getting a dislocated long finger in the Algarve Cup.

What are the main features you look for in a goalkeeper glove?
The grip and the shape of the glove, the feeling when it is on my hand.

Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Hard to say one advice that is better than others, but I think when my dad told me about pretending to stand on a string between the ball and the middle of the goal was a very good advice.

What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
The World Cup in Germany, when we got the bronze.

Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them? (Team and player)?
Germany, USA, Japan. Since they play differently you prepare yourself a bit differently. Germany love their wallpasses while the US play in a high tempo. Japan is superb in their technical skills and so on. Wambach has always been a tough opponent because of her skills in the air.

Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
Understand what the business is like for a goalkeeper and try to stand tall even if the critique is aimed at you. And enjoy to dare to take the risk.

Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
Staying at home with my family and pets, but also find new places to check out. I love going to places where people are up for a chat with new peoples, like in the dog park or getting to know other parents.

Thanks Hedvig!

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Daz @ KeeperPortal

Owner and creator of Keeper Portal, an FA qualified goalkeeping coach as well as being pretty impressive at keeping balls out of a net.

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