It should be obvious to the Swedish jury that decides who will get the “Player of the year” - award, called Diamantbollen, that it belongs on a shelf in Magdalena Eriksson’s London home.
Captain of Chelsea FC Women. Women’s Super League title winner. Continental Cup winner. Community Shield Winner. On top of that, Magdalena Eriksson still hasn’t lost a game while being on the pitch since the armband was put on her arm. This has been Eriksson's year and it should say it all.
On August 7th, Sweden played Brazil in the Olympics and ended up losing 5-1. Current Chelsea captain and defender, Magdalena Eriksson, was just about to establish herself in the Sweden national team’s starting formation but was subbed off ahead of the second half after giving away a penalty.
She spoke openly about this situation in a podcast, hosted by Swedish football journalist Olof Lundh, back in September 2019;
“I have always been a person who takes on a lot of responsibility and what happened in that game, in that tournament, affected me, maybe more than I was prepared for.”
Sweden ended up winning silver and a few months after that dreadful game in the Olympics in November 2016, Eriksson led Linköpings FC to the club’s second league title, with the band around her arm at the age of 24.
On May 20th Eriksson was interviewed after a Swedish league game, where reigning champions, Linköpings FC, just had lost 3-0 against FC Rosengård. Fun fact; Dutch international, Lieke Martens, scored the first in the fourth minute followed by a goal from Lotta Schelin just a minute after. One who didn't find it funny was Eriksson, who was being interviewed afterwards where she said;
“I am extremely disappointed. Right now it feels like I just want to go home and watch those five first minutes to see what happened. We have to go back and analyze what went wrong to learn from this, and then move on.”
This is significant if you have been following Eriksson’s career closely since her big breakthrough in Sweden. The Swedish centre-back certainly does not like to lose. Her will to be the best version of herself as a football player, to win every game, every competition her team participates in has been obvious.
It also caused her a bloody face a couple of times, a broken nose and a broken bone in her jaw, during her time in Linköping. You could see Eriksson’s passion for winning when almost looked like she defended with her life at stake, trying to stop attackers from scoring.
The powerful centre-back put pen to paper after the 2017 European Championship and secured her move to Chelsea ahead of the FA Women’s Super League season. Eriksson quickly earned Emma Hayes’ trust and was used frequently as an important puzzle piece as either a centre back in a back four or a left-back in a back three. During her first season as a Blue, Chelsea ended up winning the mighty double.
In October 2018 Eriksson scored the winning goal against Liverpool with a spectacular overhead kick. The words that came from Hayes the day after were the reason why not many raised their eyebrows when Eriksson was given the armband to captain the Blues a year later;
“I know the goal will get all the plaudits, and rightly so, but I’d like to highlight how magnificent she has been in general. She is a real leader on the pitch and you could see from the reaction of the players to her goal the esteem in which she is held in by her peers” said Hayes.
National team career
Eriksson has always been clear about the fact that she feels most comfortable as a centre back. She knows that her left foot magic is one of her unique qualities and accepted when current Sweden head coach, Peter Gerhardsson, used her as a left-back through the whole World Cup tournament in France last summer. This was a position that Eriksson and her Chelsea teammate, Jonna Andersson, were competing for.
So, why play Eriksson in a position that she normally doesn't play, through such a big tournament as the World Cup when you also have another superstar like Andersson?
The answer is simple. If Eriksson is fit to play, she is too important to leave out of a starting line up in games that matter. Last summer, the competition for the centre back positions was massive within the Swedish team; Linda Sembrant and Nilla Fischer were simply too strong and experienced for Eriksson to steal a spot from.
Then the Algarve Cup came along and what appeared to be just like that; Eriksson was the obvious and most natural choice for Gerhardsson. Fischer was not fit to play in Portugal and Sembrant couldn’t accompany the Swedish squad from Juventus due to the fact that Covid-19 had started to go ballistic in Italy.
Eriksson was one of the few players that started all three games in the Algarve Cup, and against Denmark, she entered the stadium with the band around her arm; selected to captain her side when Caroline Seger was rested.
When the tournament was over, and Gerhardsson was asked to name a player that had stood out in performance, his simple answer was;
“Magdalena Eriksson. She is glowing and exudes a lot of strong power and authority right now. Not only in what you can observe from seeing her on the pitch but also outside it. Being the captain in a club like Chelsea obviously means a lot. Eriksson’s development is outstanding and she has transformed into a completely different person and player from when I started working with her.”
While other defenders have been rotated through Sweden’s Women’s Euro 2022 qualification games this fall, Eriksson has played every minute. When Seger has been subbed off, the armband has ended up around Eriksson’s arm.
Back to Chelsea
The Blues from London haven’t lost a single league game since January 2019. Therefore, when entering Goodison Park, to play Everton in the Women’s FA Cup September 27, they were clear favourites to win and pull through to the semi-finals.
Eriksson was not a part of the starting formation, nor in the squad for the day and it showed. Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Everton. Afterwards, Emma Hayes’ stated the obvious, what everyone was already thinking when she talked to the media;
“We really missed Magda, we really missed her. We have a squad of players and it’s important for players coming in that they raise the bar and do that… I thought something was missing in our performance today.”
In competition with other great Swedes
In the competition for this award that is called Diamantbollen in Sweden, Eriksson is up against her fellows such as Fridolina Rolfö and Kosovare Asllani among others. Obviously two very strong opponents, with one of them being Frauen Bundesliga title winner and having played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final. In the award for “Defender of the year” the other two nominees except for Eriksson are Hanna Glas (FC Bayern München) and Linda Sembrant (Juventus FC).
Still, nothing or no one should be able to push Magdalena Eriksson off the throne this year.