Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has ‘about a year’ to live because of cancer

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Sven-Goran Eriksson says he is facing ‘the biggest setback of them all’ - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph

Sven-Goran Eriksson has disclosed a terminal cancer diagnosis that he says leaves him with a year to live in a “best-case” scenario.

“I have to fight as long as possible,” added the 75-year-old, who managed England for five years before leaving after the 2006 World Cup.

Eriksson had stood down from his most recent role as sporting director at Swedish club Karlstad 11 months ago due to health issues.

Referring to his ailing appearance, he said in an interview with his native country’s Radio P1: “Everyone can see that I have a disease that’s not good, and everyone supposes that it’s cancer, and it is. But I have to fight it as long as possible.

“I know that in the best case it’s about a year, in the worst case even less. Or in the best case I suppose even longer. I don’t think the doctors I have can be totally sure, they can’t put a day on it.”

There had been speculation about his health after he stopped working at Karlstad. He explained that he collapsed after a run last year and found out he was seriously ill.

“It’s better not to think about it,” Eriksson, a father of two from his first marriage, said. “You have to trick your brain. I could go around thinking about that all the time and sit at home and be miserable and think I’m unlucky and so on.

“It’s easy to end up in that position. But no, see the positive sides of things and don’t bury yourself in setbacks, because this is the biggest setback of them all of course.”

He was told by doctors after his fall that he had suffered a stroke and also had cancer. “They don’t know how long I had cancer, maybe a month or a year,” he said.

Eriksson was once one of the most prized club managers in football, enjoying success at IFK Gothenburg, Benfica, Roma, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Lazio. In the Premier League, he managed Manchester City and Leicester City.

Aside from his England career, when he was in charge of the so-called “Golden Generation”, he also managed Mexico, Ivory Coast and the Philippines at international level.

“I live a totally normal life,” Eriksson told BBC World Service’s Sporting Witness.

“I’m not in hospital, I go now and then for a visit but I live at home and I have friends here. Christmas and New Year, the whole family were here – a lot of people.

“I’m going out to try and exercise as much as possible, which is less than it was one year ago, but I have a normal life.

“When you get a message like that, you appreciate every day and you are happy when you wake up in the morning and you feel OK, so that’s what I’m doing.

“I thought I was fully healthy but suddenly I had a small stroke so I fell and my children took me to the hospital.

“After one day of examination they told me I had five small strokes, but said, ‘No problem, you will recover 100 per cent from that’, but worse is they said I have cancer which they can’t operate on.

“They said they will give me treatment and medicine to try and live as long as possible. I have that diagnosis and they can’t operate, unfortunately.”

While working for the Football Association, initially on a £3 million-a-year deal, he was the most instantly recognisable manager in the world. He revitalised England and there was the famous 5-1 victory over Germany in Munich early in his spell.

Sven-Goran Eriksson and David Beckham show their frustration
Eriksson was unable to lead England to international success, despite a glittering club career - Owen Humphreys/PA

But, overall, there was a sense of disappointment that no major trophy was secured with the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Frank Lampard at their peaks.

His colourful era with England eventually came to an end after a sting by the News of the World in 2006. In the years prior, he had already faced much scrutiny into his personal life following reported relationships with television presenter Ulrika Jonsson and the FA secretary Faria Alam.

Wayne Rooney, who made his England debut under Eriksson and then announced himself to the world with starring performances at Euro 2004, was among many well-wishers as he told his former manager to “keep fighting”.

“Sad news this morning,” Rooney posted on social media. “Thoughts are with Sven-Goran Eriksson and his family. A brilliant coach and a special person. Loved and respected by everyone. We’re all with you Sven, keep fighting.”

The FA’s England team social media account wrote on X:

Peter Shilton, another former England captain, said: “Very sad news to hear of Sven’s illness. He’s a real gentleman and a great manager.”

City, his former club, said: “Everyone at Manchester City is thinking of Sven-Göran Eriksson, and we wish to express our collective support to our former manager, and his family and friends, during this time.”

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