Sven-Goran Eriksson tells TheFA.com that Wayne Rooney's 'explosion' into...
Sven-Goran Eriksson tells TheFA.com that Wayne Rooney's 'explosion' into English football has made him the Young Player of the Year in his eyes...
Sven's appreciation for individual talent has been one of his strongest traits as a coach. When manager at Fiorentina in the late-eighties a young player came along that he could not hold back. His skill and impudence was such that Sven felt he had no choice other than to give this young man a platform to parade his prowess. That young boy - Roberto Baggio - went onto to become one of the greatest footballers of his generation.
When TheFA.com cathes up with Sven to talk about the players that have impressed him in the Premiership this year, that same admiration for class was clearly evident.
Taking time to think about the calibre of players that he's seen in his trips up and down the country this year, Sven ponders for a moment as he contemplates his Player of the Year.
There are more than a few contenders. What about the man that he hasn't been able to work with? Alan Shearer's awesome performances must have impressed him. Similarly Patrick Vieira's all-action displays at the heart of Arsenal's midfield have once again inspired his team throughout the season.
Neither, though, have done quite enough to make it into Sven's top three. Sven goes for the man that has got the goals to win United the League, the striker that has been simply unstoppable all season for Arsenal, and the little Mancunian magician who seems to get better and better.
"Van Nistelrooy, Henry and Scholes are my three players of the season," he says. "It's difficult to separate them because they have all stood out for me."
At the lower end of the age range, though, Sven has no such dilemma about naming his Young Player of the Year.
"That's Rooney," he says without a moment's hesitation.
"He has been an explosion this season. He's doing very well at his club and has been fantastic for us. When you are playing for England at 17 years old of course it's a sensation all over the world."
Jermaine Jenas was the PFA's Young Player of the Year and there's certainly no question that Sven rates the Newcastle man very highly too. But, it's Rooney's ability to excite that seems to have entranced the England coach as well as the rest of the country.
"He's one of those players that whenever he gets the ball, something seems to happen," explains Eriksson, his eyes lighting up as he describes the young Everton prodigy.
"Whether it's finding a good pass or taking on a player, it's exciting and that's what makes him such an interesting player both now and for the future.
"He's young but I don't think he's nervous at all. He's very confident and knows what he can and can't do. He has no fear and not too much respect for the opponents."
For Sven, one of Rooney's most appealing assets is the breadth of his qualities, which means that he can be played in differing positions upfront.
"I don't know him as well as David Moyes does but I can see the qualities in him that allow him to drop deeper," the England coach confirms.
"He can turn on the ball and then drive forward. It's very dangerous because he can beat people and play his team-mates in as well. Also, although, he is not tall, he is strong, so you have the option of playing him right upfront. Because of his broad talents he could play with almost any kind of the partner - that makes him very useful."
The men that impressed Eriksson....
Sven's Players of The Year
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Place of Birth: Oss, Holland
Date of Birth: 1 July 1976
Weight: 12 13
Height: 6' 2''
Club: Manchester United
Sven was talking to Daniel Freedman
Statistics by James Wright
Sven: 'I'll pick Jenas and Davis'
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