“It’s better than hockey”

He won World Cup gold and became the first European in the NHL.
Today we pay tribute to Swedish hockey icon Ulf Sterner on his 83rd birthday.
And he reveals his unknown life after the successful playing career.

Already as a 17-year-old did Ulf Sterner debut for Tre Kronor in the blue-yellow national team jersey and it would be an unparalleled hockey career that lasted until the age of 49. Of course, it was a success with goals right away in that Tre Kronor debut.

Sterner’s career

There were a total of 189 international matches for Sweden and a World Cup gold in 1962, five World Cup silvers, a World Cup bronze and an Olympic silver as the main merits. In 1969 Sterner was named the World Cup’s best forward and in 2001 he was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame.

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211209 Ulf Sterner during the ice hockey match in the SHL between Leksand and Frölunda on December 9, 2021 in Leksand. Photo: Daniel Eriksson / BILDBYRÅN / COP 173 / DE0082

In the 1963/64 season, “Uffe” wrote Swedish sports history when he became the very first European to play in the NHL. The hockey icon stepped into Madison Square Garden and made his debut in the world’s best hockey league for the New York Rangers against the Boston Bruins.

Uffe’s unknown life

After the successful playing career, Ulf Sterner has lived an unknown life that few have known about. Together with his wife Pia Sterner they looked after delinquent youth and unaccompanied refugees for over 20 years.
– All children who have lived with us have had different needs, says the hockey legend to Expressen.
– We have had 38 young people live with us during these years, says Pia.

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240122 Ulf Sterner with wife Pia and Jens Lind during the Sports Gala on January 22, 2024 in Stockholm. Photo: Jesper Zerman / BILDBYRÅN / code JZ / JZ0490

When the couple moved home to Sweden from Germany in the late 1980s, they decided to open up their home in Karlstad for children and young people in need of care.
– This has been our way of paying back to our society, says Ulf in the interview and talks about two boys.
– One guy came from Somalia and the other was Swedish. Both graduated high school. It was an amazing feeling. Absolutely unbeatable actually. Better than winning a hockey game.

READ MORE: When Ulf Sterner did the forbidden in front of the booth – and got ten (!) ox-crazy Canadians after him: “Worth it”

They still have contact with many of their foster children these days. And it warms inside that they have been able to influence the children’s lives for the better.
– It feels very good in the heart. It’s tough being a kid. No one is born a criminal or an addict, but sometimes you take the wrong path in life, says Pia to the evening newspaper.
– It is so wonderful that we were able to give all children and young people the attention and love that everyone needs so much, Ulf also says.

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