‘It’s like a dream’: Sven-Goran Eriksson manages Liverpool in charity match against Ajax

Jurgen Klopp meets with Sven-Goran Eriksson before the charity match at Anfield (Liverpool FC)
Jurgen Klopp meets with Sven-Goran Eriksson before the charity match at Anfield (Liverpool FC)

Sven-Goran Eriksson realised a lifelong dream on Saturday as he prepared to finally manage Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy, during a charity match at Anfield.

Eriksson was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, and he revealed in January that he had “at best a year left to live”.

One of the few things he felt he had missed out on during his long and hugely successful career in football was to coach Liverpool. That became a reality this weekend as he took charge of a star-studded Liverpool Legends team, which included Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, against an Ajax Legends side.

Eriksson said ahead of the game: “When I was a manager I always dreamed about [managing] Liverpool but it never happened ... It was close once. There were some discussions once, many years ago.

“It’s like a dream. I could never have dreamed of it. It must be the best atmosphere in the world and part of that is the song when the players walk out, You’ll Never Walk Alone. When they asked, I thought it was a joke. Of course I would come to a Legends match. It is for charity, which makes it even more lovely.”

Before kick-off, Eriksson was pictured meeting Jurgen Klopp. “Legend!” Klopp said. Eriksson replied: “What a pleasure.”

Almost 60,000 tickets were sold for the game, which is raising money for the LFC Foundation.

On the game itself, Eriksson added: “I look forward to the game very, very much. I think all of them [his players] looked very fit [in training]. One of them I know extremely well, Steven Gerrard, and he looked very fit, so I’m sure he can play the full game, or most of it.”

Eriksson collapsed while on a 5km run last year, which prompted doctors to investigate. They told the 75-year-old he had suffered a stroke, and subsequently discovered advanced pancreatic cancer. “They don’t know how long I had cancer, maybe a month or a year,” the former England manager told Swedish radio station P1.

“Everyone understands that I have an illness, that is not good. Everyone guesses it’s cancer and it is. But I have to fight as long as I can. [I have] maybe at best a year, at worst a little less, or at best maybe even longer. You can’t be absolutely sure. It is better not to think about it.”

His management career took in Swedish side Gothenburg, Portuguese giants Benfica, a host of Italian clubs including Roma and their city rivals Lazio, as well as Premier League sides Manchester City and Leicester. He also coached Mexico, Ivory Coast and the Philippines, but is most famous in Britain for taking charge of England’s golden generation for six years and three major tournaments.