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18 June 2017

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof used to cry after losing… that mindset has now secured him a move to one of football’s biggest clubs

 

VICTOR LINDELOF hates losing so much he once ran off to cry in a forest after missing a crucial penalty.

But the heartbreaking separation of his parents saw the Swedish defender mature into a player who has just cost Manchester United £31million from Benfica.

Victor Lindelof hated losing when he was young... that mindset has earned him a move to Man Utd
Victor Lindelof hated losing when he was young… that mindset has earned him a move to Man Utd
Getty Images

Lindelof, 22, hails from Vasteras, Sweden’s fifth biggest city, on the shores of Lake Malaren.



And his footballing journey started aged five at IK Franke, a tiny club in a deprived suburb of the city.

Coach Solve Goteson discovered Lindelof had “something special” because of his “work ethic to improve” and “hatred of losing”.

Here’s our player profile of new Manchester United star Victor Lindelof

Justin Allen talked to a number of Lindelof's former coaches and friends to get an insight into his mindset
SunSport’s Justin Allen and Lindelof’s former manager Kalle Granath
Sun

He told SunSport: “I remember when he was eight or nine, he took the last penalty in a semi- final shootout and hit the ball five metres over the bar.

“He was so upset he immediately ran off into a nearby forest. I found him later sitting on a tree where he cried and cried.

“He felt he had let everyone down and I had to calm Victor by saying none of them were angry with him. But he wanted to win all the time.”

The second eldest of four boys, his childhood was disrupted when mother Ulrica and father Jorgen broke up.

Lindelof is known for being mentally tough and having a maturity belying his years.


Lindelof absolutely hated losing when he was a youngster
Lindelof absolutely hated losing when he was a youngster
Lindelof trained at the IK Franke club house
Lindelof trained at the IK Franke club house

And family friend Peter Lundqvist said: “Victor was made stronger as he felt responsibility for his brothers when his dad left their family home, especially the two younger ones.

“It made him grow up and most probably why we see this mature young man of today.”

Lindelof played his youth football as a central midfielder.

And IK Franke director Magnus Hellstrom remembers the name quickly grabbing his attention.

He said: “When you have 400 kids at your club, it’s impossible to know everyone.

“But there were two star players coming through — Victor and Linus Sjoberg — and everyone was talking about them.

“Linus, who later trained with Manchester United, stood out more as he had something of the Cristiano Ronaldo about him.

“But Victor had something special too if you watched carefully. He was grown up and played smart.

“Kids usually can’t wait to get forward and shoot. But Victor would play the ball back to the defender and intelligently take up a new position — that’s not normal for someone so young.”

The defender once ran into a wood crying after losing a game
The defender once ran into a wood crying after losing a game

Lindelof left the club aged 13 for local rivals Vasteras IK before being spotted by the city’s main team, Vasteras SK.

And it was then manager Kalle Granath who gave him his debut aged 16 in 2010.

Granath, who led the team to the third tier title that season, said: “Victor came in as a central midfielder and weighed 67kg in the winter of 2009, but by April 2010 when we started our campaign he was 82kg.

“All the hormonal changes happening to his body, combined with the way he worked, beefed him up. But to go up so much so soon is almost impossible if you’re trying to keep agility and speed. But he improved with every test.

“It was good timing in terms of what he was doing and what was happening to his body. He was always preparing and even optimised resting, making sure he slept at the right times. He was meticulous, coming in with his sandwiches and salads.”

Brother Alexander is also a fine sportsman, playing ice hockey for VIK Vasteras.

And his relationship with his family, especially his mother, underpins who he is.

Two of Lindelofs former coaches Rydh and Hellstrom
Two of Lindelof’s former coaches Rydh and Hellstrom

Granath said: “His mum is the nicest person in the world. She was always pleasant and there 100 per cent for him. She was not at all the games but would deliver him prepared and he always arrived smiling and happy.”

Lindelof’s first taste of defending was when Granath decided to convert him to right-back. He said: “I told him he had a great eye for the game and would like to try him as a wing-back because I needed a good decision maker — when to go forward, when to stay.

“I noticed he had a good repetitive sprint ability. He was never the fastest on one run but was always going back and forth.

“I couldn’t afford to give away spots to players for the sake of developing them but he soon became my first pick. He’d always work out how to get the better of an opponent.

“It was never an instant success with him. But if you asked him to do something, two minutes later he’d start and fail, start and fail, then he’d succeed and fail before consistently succeeding. He’s always widening his toolbox.”

Lindelof started his career in midfield before switching to right-back
Lindelof started his career in midfield before switching to right-back

Granath often bumps into Lindelof when he is back in Vasteras but reckons he will not flaunt his new-found United fame.

He said: “He’s not one of those guys who rolls up his sleeves and puffs out his chest demonstrating who he is. He doesn’t feel he needs or expects attention.”

Lundqvist said United will find out he is a very different kind of Swede to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He said: “Victor won’t need too much time to settle. He can take his place directly in the team. Everyone who meets Victor will like him. He’s so calm, listens, takes care of everyone.

“He won’t walk in there like Zlatan and say ‘I’m the best’ and want everyone to listen to him. He’ll just fit in, laugh and joke with his team-mates and talk with his feet. That’s his special gift.”

Granath believes Jose Mourinho has signed an accomplished and grounded footballer
Granath believes Jose Mourinho has signed an accomplished and grounded footballer

Granath believes United boss Jose Mourinho will have done his research and know Lindelof’s family background, personality and career path.

He said: “What does Mourinho see? He sees a calm lad and, if he can put a very physical, fast player next to him, will be confident with the ball and one step ahead.

“He might not be looking at the future team captain, but the guy who’ll always perform. He’s got a strong head and knows what he wants to do.”

Lindelof has been back in Vasteras, not just celebrating signing for one of the world’s biggest clubs but also passing his driving test. He really is now in the fast lane.

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