Summary

  • Forsberg is part of Sweden's final Euro 2016 squad.
  • Blossomed at Zlatan Ibrahimovic's boyhood club, Malmö.
  • His eight goals helped Leipzig achieve promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time.

'Forsberg' is a name that evokes happy memories of sporting glory in Sweden. Peter Forsberg, affectionately nicknamed 'Foppa', is the Scandinavian country's ice hockey equivalent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an NHL legend who helped bring world championship and Olympic gold to his nation.

Born just a slapshot away from his illustrious namesake in the northern city of Sundsvall, Emil Forsberg will be all too aware of the weighty legacy his surname carries in the nation's collective sporting memory. The RB Leipzig forward's stage of choice on which to perform is grass, not ice, but 'mini-Foppa' has his compatriots hoping the pair share more than a name ahead of UEFA EURO 2016.

There is good reason to be optimistic they do.

"In Emil Forsberg, we have brought in a young attacking player who is good in front of goal," Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick had said upon snapping up the left-sided forward from Malmö FF in January 2015.

Forsberg has not let his boss down. Only Davie Selke's ten goals were a superior tally to Forsberg's eight last season while he also contributed six assists to Leipzig's successful promotion push and a first-ever Bundesliga berth.

Forsberg was one of Leipzig's standout players in the club's historic promotion-winning campaign.

It was an ability he had already exhibited abundantly in his native country after leaving the comfort zone of his hometown club to move to the south-west and Malmö. "I had always played in Sundsvall, but it was time to challenge myself. I know it will take a lot, but I like to put pressure on myself," Forsberg said after the switch in January 2013 before immediately taking up the task with relish.

He quickly established himself in a side that claimed the Allsvenskan title, but it was the following campaign in which - appropriately enough for a man who hails from a town where winters are rude - everything snowballed.

His league-high 14 goals as part of a Malmö outfit that made a stout and successful defence of its national crown earned him domestic recognition with individual awards and a senior international call-up. With a central role in the UEFA Champions League group stage campaign that followed, Forsberg inevitably caught the eye of suitors scrutinising Ibrahimovic's first club hoping to unearth another Swedish gem.

The Leipzig No.10 (l.) opened the scoring in Sweden's final Euro 2016 warm-up game against Wales.

"Despite other offers" as Rangnick himself revealed, Forsberg opted for Leipzig, undoubtedly aware of the reputation of the club's sporting director for refining raw talent as well as the ambition of the club's owner to make it a powerful force in German football. While the latter goal is taking shape, the former has already been achieved.

"This club wants to be the best, and I want to be the best," said the 24-year-old in March 2016, flush with the confidence a three-year contract extension through to 2021 brings.

"I have developed all the time and have a major role in the club. It's perfect for me. I have much more to give and I want to give it to the club." For those who arrive in France clad in yellow and blue and the obligatory Viking helmet, they will be confident 'and country' was also in the thoughts of their next sporting icon bearing an already-famous name.