Sebastian Larsson

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Sebastian Larsson
Seb Larsson.jpg
Larsson playing for Sunderland in 2012
Personal information
Full name Sebastian Bengt Ulf Larsson[1]
Date of birth (1985-06-06) 6 June 1985 (age 31)[2]
Place of birth Eskilstuna, Sweden
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing position Central midfielder / Winger
Club information
Current team
Sunderland
Number 7
Youth career
0000–2001 IFK Eskilstuna
2001–2004 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2007 Arsenal 3 (0)
2006–2007 Birmingham City (loan) 27 (1)
2007–2011 Birmingham City 157 (18)
2011– Sunderland 154 (12)
National team
2000–2001 Sweden U16[3] 9 (1)
2001–2002 Sweden U17[3] 14 (5)
2003 Sweden U19[3] 9 (4)
2004–2006 Sweden U21 12 (0)
2008– Sweden 87 (6)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12 May 2016.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 22 June 2016

Sebastian Bengt Ulf "Seb" Larsson (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈlɑːʂɔn]; born 6 June 1985) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Sunderland and the Sweden national team.

After beginning his career at hometown club IFK Eskilstuna, Larsson was signed by Arsenal. He made three league appearances for the Gunners, before joining Birmingham City, initially on loan for the 2006–07 season, before a permanent transfer in the summer of 2007. Larsson spent five years at Birmingham, experiencing promotion to, and relegation from, the Premier League on two occasions. He joined Sunderland on 1 July 2011 upon the expiry of his contract, after Birmingham suffered relegation. Larsson is renowned for being a set-piece specialist.[4]

A full international since 2008, Larsson played for Sweden at the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.

Club career[edit]

Arsenal[edit]

Larsson was born in Eskilstuna[2] and initially played football for his hometown team, IFK Eskilstuna. He joined Arsenal aged 16 during the summer of 2001, on a four-year professional contract.[5] Having been on the substitutes bench for a match against Panathinaikos, he made his first-team debut against Manchester City in the League Cup on 27 October 2004, where he played out of position at left back. He played in two further League Cup matches that season.[6]

He made his Premier League debut on 1 February 2006, replacing Sol Campbell at half time as Arsenal lost 3–2 at home to West Ham United.[7] Due to Campbell's defensive errors in that match, Larsson started the next two league matches in defence in his absence, a 2–0 win away to Birmingham City three days later,[8] and a 1–1 draw at home to Bolton Wanderers on 11 February, in which he was substituted for Dennis Bergkamp as Arsenal sought their equaliser.[9]

Birmingham City[edit]

Larsson joined Championship club Birmingham City on a season-long loan from Arsenal in August 2006,[10] with an option to make the move permanent.[11] He made an immediate impact, scoring late winners in his first few games, against Crystal Palace and Shrewsbury Town.[12] He also scored two goals against Newcastle United in the FA Cup.[13] At the end of January 2007, Larsson signed permanently for Birmingham City on a four-year deal for a £1 million fee.[14] He scored Birmingham's goal of the season, against Sheffield Wednesday in April 2007, running half the length of the field with the ball and finishing from inside the goal area.[15][16]

In the 2006–07 season, Larsson was used mainly on the right wing, occasionally filling in at right-back or left-back when players were injured. His performances on the wide right of midfield in the 2007–08 season, in particular a man-of-the-match showing against Bolton,[17] indicated this to be his best position.

Larsson taking a corner for Birmingham City in 2007

Recalled to the starting eleven by new manager Alex McLeish for the game at Tottenham Hotspur in December 2007, Larsson scored a spectacular stoppage time goal to give Birmingham their first away win in the Premier League for over three months.[18] He scored half of his six goals that season with direct free kicks, two in consecutive games, against Tottenham and Portsmouth,[19] and one from 30 yards (27 m) against Liverpool.[20] With four weeks of the season remaining, Opta statistics rated Larsson as the most accurate taker of a direct free kick in the Premier League,[21] though this ability failed to save Birmingham from relegation.

Larsson playing for Birmigham City in 2010

On the opening day of the 2010–11 season, Larsson recovered from what the Observer's reporter described as an "anonymous" start to provide assists for both Birmingham's goals as they drew 2–2 with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.[22] He again provided an assist, this time for Craig Gardner, in his side's first home game, a 2–1 win against Blackburn Rovers.[23] Away to Fulham on 27 November, Alexander Hleb made "a terrific run"[24] and a "slide-rule" pass to Larsson, who opened the scoring with his first goal of the season, a low shot across the goalkeeper. The game finished 1–1.[25]

Larsson played his part in Birmingham's run to the 2011 League Cup Final. He scored from the penalty spot before Nikola Žigić headed an 84th-minute winner in the quarter-final against local rivals Aston Villa.[26] In the first leg of the semi-final against West Ham United, Liam Ridgewell scored from Larsson's corner before Victor Obinna was sent off for kicking Larsson in the groin in an off-the-ball incident.[27] Despite speculation over his future at Birmingham – with his contract due to expire at the end of the season, his advisor was given permission to talk to Newcastle United about a proposed move during the January transfer window, but personal terms were not agreed,[28] and the player was booed when he came on as a substitute in the previous game, against Manchester United[29] – Larsson returned to the starting eleven in place of the cup-tied David Bentley[30] and played 100 minutes as Birmingham overturned a 2–1 deficit to win the semi-final 4–3 on aggregate.[31] Roger Johnson flicked on Larsson's corner for Žigić to give his team an unexpected lead in the final at Wembley against firm favourites Arsenal. Though Robin van Persie equalised, Obafemi Martins scored an 89th-minute winner to give Birmingham their first trophy since 1963 in what the Daily Mail described as "the biggest upset at Wembley since Wimbledon beat Liverpool to the 1988 FA Cup."[32][33]

Larsson took advantage of a defensive mix-up to open the scoring as Birmingham beat Sunderland 2–0 at St Andrew's on 16 April,[34] and four days later, marked his 200th appearance for the club in all competitions with a penalty, albeit in a losing cause, against reigning champions Chelsea.[35] On 1 May, he exploited Michael Mancienne's mistake to score the equalising goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers, helping his side earn a point despite playing with ten men for more than an hour after Gardner was sent off.[36] No new contract was agreed, and following relegation to the Championship, the club confirmed that Larsson was to leave at the end of the season when his existing deal expired.[37]

Sunderland[edit]

Larsson taking a free-kick for Sunderland in 2011

On 22 June 2011, Sunderland confirmed that Larsson would join the club on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling on 1 July.[38] linking up with former Birmingham manager Steve Bruce. He was given squad number 7 for the 2011–12 season.[39] He marked his debut with the second-half equaliser in a 1–1 draw on the opening day of the season against Liverpool at Anfield, when given room at the far post to produce a "superb first-time angled volley."[40] His second Sunderland goal, direct from a free kick, put his team 4–0 up against Stoke City at the Stadium of Light in their first win of the season.[41] Larsson scored directly from another free-kick against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium a month later, prompting Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger to label his former player "maybe the best in the league as a free-kick-taker."[42]

He scored the opening goal in Sunderland's 2–1 home defeat to Wigan Athletic on 26 November, which proved to be Bruce's last game in charge of the Black Cats.[43] Sunderland visited Wolves the following week under caretaker manager Eric Black. With Sunderland 1–0 up, Larsson won a penalty, although replays suggested he dived. His penalty was saved by Wayne Hennessey; less than 30 seconds later, Steven Fletcher equalised for Wolves, and went on to add a late winner.[44] Larsson made amends in the following game, scoring from a free kick against Blackburn Rovers in injury-time to secure a late 2–1 win in Martin O'Neill's first game as manager.[45] Larsson scored another free kick on 8 January in the FA Cup in a 2–0 win against Peterborough United at London Road.[46] In the fifth round tie with Arsenal, a quick counterattack from Sunderland saw Larsson hit the woodwork, and the ball subsequently hit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to put Sunderland 2–0 up and into the quarter-finals.[47] Larsson scored twice as Sunderland drew 3–3 with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 31 March.[48]

Larsson produced a "25-yard thunderbolt" as his first goal of the 2012–13 Premier League season against West Ham United on 12 January 2013 in a 3–0 win.[49] He provided the assist for Stéphane Sessègnon's goal in Sunderland's 1–0 defeat of Everton on 20 April, pushing the club clear of the relegation zone.[50] The strike against West Ham proved to be Larsson's only goal of the campaign, a season in which was underwhelming on both individual and club levels as Sunderland barely managed to avoid relegation.[51]

His first goal of the 2013–14 season came on 6 November 2013, in a 2–1 win against Southampton in the League Cup.[52] His first league goal of the season came against Manchester United on 3 May 2014, where he scored the only goal of the game. The result gave Sunderland their first win at Old Trafford since 1968.[53] After contributing to Sunderland's escape from relegation, he was given a new contract to run until 2017.[54]

On 16 August 2014, Larsson scored a late equaliser for Sunderland in their 2–2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the 2014–15 Premier League season.[55] His second goal of the season was a free kick to open the scoring in a 1–1 draw with Everton on 9 November,[56] and his third, another direct free kick, came in a 2–1 loss at Tottenham on 17 December.[57] Larsson was named Sunderland's Supporters' Player of the Year for the 2014–15 season.[58]

International career[edit]

Larsson playing for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012

Larsson received his first call-up to the Sweden squad for the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying games against Liechtenstein and Northern Ireland in October 2007.[59] He was an unused substitute against Liechtenstein but did not make the bench for the Northern Ireland game.[60][61] He made his debut for Sweden in February 2008, playing the whole 90 minutes of a friendly draw against Turkey in Istanbul.[62] He was named in Sweden's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2008,[63] and has since become a regular in the national team.[64]

He scored his first goal at senior international level in March 2011 as Sweden beat Moldova 2–1 in a Euro 2012 qualifier.[65] During the qualifiers in October, Larsson added two more goals to his international tally. The first was the opener in a 2–1 away victory over Finland in Helsinki,[66] and the second was a penalty as Sweden came from behind to beat the Netherlands 3–2 on 11 October at the Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm.[67] In February 2012, Larsson scored two second-half goals to down Croatia 3–1 at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb.[68]

Larsson was selected in Sweden's squad for Euro 2012. He started all three of their group games and scored the second goal in their 2–0 win over France, but Sweden did not make it through to the knockout stages of the competition.[69][70]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 15 May 2016.
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Arsenal 2004–05[71] Premier League 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 0
2005–06[72] Premier League 3 0 1 0 4 0 1[a] 0 9 0
Total 3 0 1 0 7 0 1 0 12 0
Birmingham City 2006–07[13] Championship 43 4 3 3 4 2 50 9
2007–08[73] Premier League 35 6 1 0 1 0 37 6
2008–09[74] Championship 38 1 0 0 1 0 39 1
2009–10[75] Premier League 33 4 4 0 1 0 38 4
2010–11[76] Premier League 35 4 1 0 5 1 41 5
Total 184 19 9 3 12 3 205 25
Sunderland 2011–12[77] Premier League 32 7 6 1 1 0 39 8
2012–13[78] Premier League 38 1 2 0 1 0 41 1
2013–14[79] Premier League 31 1 4 0 6 1 41 2
2014–15[80] Premier League 36 3 3 0 1 0 40 3
2015–16[81] Premier League 18 0 0 0 1 0 19 0
Total 155 12 15 1 10 1 180 14
Career total 342 31 25 4 29 4 1 0 397 39
  1. ^ Appearance in UEFA Champions League

International[edit]

As of match played 24 March 2016.[82]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Sweden 2008 9 0
2009 10 0
2010 8 0
2011 11 3
2012 12 3
2013 12 0
2014 8 0
2015 10 0
2016 1 0
Total 81 6

International goals[edit]

As of match played 19 June 2012. Sweden score listed first, score column indicates score after each Larsson goal.[82]
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref
1 29 March 2011 Råsunda Stadium, Solna, Sweden 29  Moldova 2–0 2–1 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification [65]
2 7 October 2011 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland 35  Finland 1–0 2–1 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification [66]
3 11 October 2011 Råsunda Stadium, Solna, Sweden 36  Netherlands 2–2 3–2 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification [67]
4 29 February 2012 Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia 39  Croatia 2–1 3–1 Friendly [68]
5 3–1
6 19 June 2012 Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, Kiev, Ukraine 44  France 2–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 2012 [70]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Birmingham City

Sunderland

Individual[edit]

  • Birmingham City Player of the Year: 2007–08[84]
  • Birmingham City Players' Player of the Year: 2007–08[84]
  • Birmingham City Goal of the Season: 2007–08[84]
  • Sunderland Supporters' Player of the Year: 2014–15[58]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]