The driving force behind RB Leipzig's rapid ascent of the Bundesliga ladder and a national hero after firing Sweden into the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the expense of Switzerland, Emil Forsberg is the man everyone is talking about. And if they're not, they should be.
bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the most exciting footballer to come out of Sweden since Zlatan Ibrahimovic...
1) Football in the family
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 debut aged 17 in 2009. He scored 24 goals in 97 league appearances for Sundsvall before moving to Malmö.
Watch: Emil Forsberg chats exclusively to Patrick Owomoyela
Growing up in Sweden, Forsberg tried his hand at several other sports – including hockey – before opting to become a professional footballer. Asked what he would have been had football not worked out, the Leipzig attacker answered, "unemployed, or working with my dad in the fire department."
3) Malmö calling
Forsberg took time to settle into life with Malmö, but once he did, 57 Allsvenskan appearances yielded 19 goals, two top-flight titles and earned him Sweden's Midfielder of the Year award. Several appearances in the UEFA Champions League were another impressive addition to the Forsberg CV.
4) Answering his country's call
It was little surprise that his country came calling, and having played for Sweden’s Under-19s, Forsberg won a first senior cap in friendly against Moldova in January 2014. To date he has won 39 caps, appearing at UEFA EURO 2016 and Russia 2018, where the Swedes are hoping to emulate Thomas Brolin and Co., who finished third at USA '94.
6) Football in the family II
Forsberg’s wife Shanga is also a footballer, and like her husband she plays for Leipzig. They married on 17 July 2016. She's also his harshest critic, as he revealed in a candid feature for the Players' Tribune.
"The only time I get nervous in football is after I play a bad game. You see, when I get home that night, I know what’s coming… a meeting with “the Sheriff.” And let me tell you, it can be brutal. The Sheriff always gives it to me straight.
And if the Sheriff gets really peed off … well, you don’t want to be in the same room. Trust me, I know … because I know the Sheriff better than anyone. After all, she is my wife [...] I could start answering back. But, well, this is marriage, and you know how these arguments work. I’ve got no chance!
7) Deal me in
With a first promotion to the Bundesliga getting closer, Leipzig handed Forsberg a contract extension early in 2016. "This club wants to be the best, and I want to be the best. I have developed all the time and have a major role in the club,” he said after inking in the new three-year deal. “It's perfect for me, I have much more to give and I want to give it to the club."
8) Move on up
Just as he had with all the previous moves up the career ladder so far, Forsberg has taken the step up to the Bundesliga in his stride. He produced a league-high 19 assists in his debut campaign at Germany's top table, as well as scoring eight goals. He also netted Leipzig's first-ever Champions League goal the following season, in a 1-1 draw with Monaco.
9) Club form carries over for country
Forsberg is now an established international, and his most recent outing for Sweden saw him score the decisive goal against Switzerland to set up a World Cup quarter-final date with either Colombia or England. Suffice to say neither nation will relish playing against the Leipzig show-stopper.