European Football - Djordjic hails Bromma's Swedish academy

When Swedish midfielder Bojan Djordjic told his new Manchester United team mates in 1999 that he had left Europe's biggest club to move to Old Trafford, few of them had even heard of Brommapojkarna.

Reuters

However, boasting more than 270 youth teams and 4,000 players, the team from the Stockholm suburb of Bromma suggest they are exactly that.

"What they specialise in is youth players," the 31-year-old Djordjic told Reuters at the top-flight club's Grimsta ground. "They know they don't have to bring them all the way through to their first team.

"They have a choice, if they're good enough, to go somewhere else," said the much-travelled Swede who is now back playing at the club after spending 14 years abroad.

Brommapojkarna, the translation is 'Bromma Boys', have long since been a production line for top footballers with the likes of Djordjic, Manchester City striker John Guidetti and Cagliari midfielder Albin Ekdal having gone through their academy.

Djordjic left Sweden as a teenager to join the youth ranks at United and he said there were plenty of similarities between his first club and the triple European champions in the way they treated youngsters.

"They (Brommapojkarna) are not typically a Swedish club," he explained. "They take a chance on very young players, they scout through the youth ranks all over Sweden.

"They look at youth players at the age of 10, 11, 12 and see which ones have a chance of making it."

Competitive football at the lower-age groups is frowned upon in Sweden although Djordjic believes that learning a winning mentality at a young age is vital if players are to succeed at the top level.

"People say in Sweden, 'It's too early to push players', but if you combine learning to be part of a team with learning to win, then you have both elements," he said.

GOOD PREPARATION

Djordjic, who won the Young Player of the Year award at United in 2000, said his early days with Bromma were good preparation for his move to England.

"United are one of the biggest clubs in the world - you have eyes on you much more even if you are playing at Under-17 or Under-19 level," he added.

"There was pressure, fans were saying 'This one is up and coming', and when you get the tag of an 'up and coming star' at United all eyes are on you. If you fail people are going to be on your case but I enjoyed it," Djordjic said.

"I trained with the first team at 17, 18. I got the respect of some of the biggest players in the world and I'm still in contact with them.

"Maybe I didn't make it as a player there but as a human being I left a trace on one of the biggest clubs in the world," said Djordjic who barely played for United's first team before joining Rangers in 2005 following a series of loan moves.

His career also took him to Serbia, Denmark, Hungary and Belgium as well as a spell at AIK Stockholm where he won the top-flight championship in 2009.

Djordjic won league titles in three different countries and he hopes the experience he has gained on his travels can help his young team mates at Bromma.

"I have to set an example in the dressing room and on the pitch and to get that winning mentality through," he said.

"The best thing is when you talk to a young player for six months and then you see that he's trying to do what you tell him, instead of just waving you off.

"I've seen the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes at United. If you've seen guys like that train and you don't learn something, you're stupid."

Djordjic, who intends to coach at the club when his playing days are over, said Swedish football needed to concentrate on developing the technique of their youngsters in order to replace leading exports like Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"Bromma are still the only club who teach the very young players how to receive and pass a ball," he explained. "If you don't learn by 17, 18, I cannot teach you - for me, you're already a player.

"When Zlatan hangs his boots up there's going to be a massive hole for Swedish football to fill."

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