Midfielder Emil Forsberg, known for his knack of cracking open a defence with the perfect pass, carries Swedish hopes into the 2018 World Cup following his exceptional season with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.
Football runs in the 26-year-old’s family: his grandfather Lennart Forsberg played for Sundsvall in eastern Sweden, and his father Leif was a legend at the same club, scoring 143 goals in more than 400 games between 1980 and 1990.
After initially playing other sports, including hockey, Forsberg continued the family tradition and signed up for Sundsvall in 2009 at the age of 17.
“I think I got the best of football on both sides: my father’s speed and my grandfather’s technical skills,” he told German newspaper Bild in 2015.
After almost 100 matches with his hometown team, in 2013 Forsberg signed for Malmo FF, going on to win the Swedish championship twice (2013 and 2014) and later played in the Champions League (2014-2015).
In 2014, he made his international debut against Moldova and in the same year caught the attention of Ralf Rangnick, sporting director of Salzburg, the Austrian sister club of RB Leipzig.
He was recruited by the German second-division team the following year. He thrived and so did his club — Leipzig were promoted at the end of the 2015-16 season and came second in the top flight behind Bayern Munich in their first top-flight campaign.
Forsberg was one of the stars in that side, and he heads to Russia fresh from a season in which he and his club played in the Champions League, his individual performances leading to interest in him from clubs in England.