For a brief moment in time Sven-Goran Eriksson was the saviour of English football.
An experienced forward-thinking coach, he’d hoovered up trophies in his native Sweden, Portugal and Italy’s Serie A when the FA came calling following Kevin Keegan’s abrupt resignation as England manager in 2000.
Eriksson steered England’s Golden Generation of David Beckham, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole to three successive tournament quarter-finals.
All that seems like a pipe dream now as the national team faltered with a succession of duff managerial appointments. For new boss Sam Allardyce, matching Eriksson’s achievements will be seen as a success.
It’s easy to look back on Sven’s England with rose-tinted nostalgia – in retrospect his tenure feels like a triumph, but there were always questions about his team being less than the sum of their parts.
Would a better manager have turned that England squad into tournament winners? Euro 2004 felt like it was there for the taking but Sven’s men fell short after losing a young, electrifying Wayne Rooney to an early injury in the quarters.
With Sven the lows were low but the highs were very high. None more so than their 5-1 World Cup qualifier demolition of Germany in their old rival’s own back yard.
For England fans this was euphoria to match Euro 96. What followed under Sven never managed to eclipse it, and his off the pitch shenanigans with Ulrika Jonsson, Faria Alam and the News of the World’s “fake sheikh” meant he was frequently a Have I Got News for You punchline.
Erikson departed the England job after the 2006 World Cup, and in the years since he’s become a bit of a footballing nomad, drifting from one high-profile job to the next.
It kicked off with Manchester City in the 2007/08 season. The departure of Stuart Pearce and takeover from ex-Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra paved the way for big-spending Sven.
He splashed the cash on the likes of Rolando Bianchi, Geovanni, Martin Petrov and Elano, and after a promising start City’s form slipped and a 8-1 defeat to Middlesborough on the final day of the season cost him his job. City finished 9th but fans were still enamoured with Sven, even launching a protest petition against his dismissal that garnered 14,000 signatures.
What followed was a disastrous spell as manager of Mexico’s national team, in which a terrible World Cup qualifying campaign led to his dismissal in 2009.
Later that year came one of the more bizarre stories to happen in English football in recent years: Notts County’s takeover by Middle East consortium Munto Finance. With negotiations headed up by convicted fraudster Russell King, Erikson joined the Magpies as director of football but after five months the new ownership went up in smoke and County were saddled with millions in debt. They even saw Sol Campbell and Kasper Schmeichel through the gates at Meadow Lane.
Hilariously, King went under the name L Voldemort (yes that one, Harry Potter fans) at County so his name didn’t appear in any official documents.
Sven landed on his feet to manage Ivory Coast’s 2010 World Cup campaign. Failure to get out of the group stages meant Sven was off again, this time to Leicester City where he spent big in a bid to get them out of the Championship.
The likes of Jermaine Beckford, Matt Mills and Yakubu failed to power the Foxes into the Premier League, but Erikson signing Schmeichel was instrumental in the side’s miracle run to the title in 2016.
Two years on from Sven’s Leicester City exit, he turned up at Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League. He tested his managerial mettle against old Serie A adversary Marcello Lippi, then boss at Guangzhou Evergrande, before moving to Shangai SIPG in November 2014.
Managing the likes of Hulk and Elkeson, Sven currently sits in fourth place in the Chinese Super League at Shanghai. He may not have the profile of his England days, but in the cash-rich China he’s still going strong.
Where will his next adventure take him? One thing’s for sure: we haven’t heard the last of Sven-Goran Eriksson.