In the absence of injured national hero Zlatan Ibrahmovic, Emil Forsberg is steering Sweden towards the UEFA Euro 2020 knockout rounds. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the RB Leipzig winger...
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Winger/ attacking midfielder
Football is in Forsberg’s blood: grandfather Lennart played for Sundsvall in the 1950s, father Leif 'Foppa' Forsberg became a club legend, scoring 143 goals in more than 400 games for the team during the 1980s and '90s, even having his No.10 shirt retired in honour of his achievements with the Giffarna. Known as 'mini-Foppa', Emil went on to make it a hat-trick for the Forsbergs when he made his pro debut aged 17 in 2009. He scored 24 goals in 97 league appearances for Sundsvall before moving to Malmö.
Forsberg took time to settle into his new surrounds, but once he did, 57 Allsvenskan outings yielded 19 goals, 13 assists two top-flight titles and earned him the Allsvenskan Midfielder of the Year award. Several appearances in the UEFA Champions League were another impressive addition to the Forsberg CV, which landed on Leipzig desks towards the end of 2014.
Forsberg has lived up to the hype. After helping Leipzig to an historic Bundesliga promotion in 2015/16, the Swede set a then record for most assists in a single Bundesliga season with 19. Injury checked his progress, though he did score Leipzig's first ever Champions League goal in their debut outing against Monaco in September 2017. He was on target four times during Leipzig's run to the 2019/20 Champions League semi-finals, and was the club's biggest goal threat on all fronts the following year (eight goals, five assists).
Forsberg's match-winning penalty against Slovakia in Euro 2020 Group B marked his ninth goal in 59 senior internationals, dating back to a debut against Moldova in January 2014. His record from the spot for club and country now reads 18 scored, three missed. The former U19 international - who can play in wide and central attacking roles - is also a three-time Swedish Midfielder of the Year (2016, 2018 & 2019).
Watch: An Emil Forsberg highlight reel
Plays a bit like: Franck Ribery
Forsberg's ability to glide past opposition players and cut in off the left-hand flank to arrow a right-footed shot towards goal or tee up a teammate has drawn comparisons with legendary Bayern Munich winger, Franck Ribery. The Swede likes a postage-stamp free-kick, too.
Did you know?
"When I was in my early teens, I faced my first rejection, and it hit me hard," Forsberg explained in a piece for The Players' Tribune. "I had been trying to get into this place called the Halmstad Elite Camp, which is where the Swedish Football Association picks the youth national team. And guess what their reason was for rejecting me? … Wait for it…. They thought I was too small."
They were wrong. Three years later, the 5'10" Forsberg made his debut for Sundsvall, in Sweden's second division. The rest is history.
What they're saying
"Emil's a very intelligent player. Put simply, he's a very good footballer." - former Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann
"Emil's great to play alongside in attack. He creates chances and scores goals." - Chelsea and Germany forward Timo Werner, who played alongside Forsberg at Leipzig
"He had more of a positive influence on the game than Ibrahimovic. He played very well." - former Leipzig sporting director and coach Ralf Rangnick, following Sweden's Euro 2016 play-off win over Denmark