Linda Sällström put school on break and put everything on the line – the all-time top scorer wants another record | Sport

Linda Sallstrom put school on break and put everything on


– The best thing about “Häsis” is the good connections, trains go in every direction! Linda Sällström throws a twinkle in the corner of his eye and turns the wheel.

Compared to that, Sällström has had a good time in his municipality of less than 20,000 inhabitants. Finland’s all-time leading scorer represented Vittsjö GIK in 2015–2018 and returned after a few years in France and a brief visit to Helsinki in early 2022.

And what about when Sällström is enjoying himself.

Sällström enjoys great respect in his club team and in Damallsvenskan. Linköping’s sports director Mia Eriksson called Sällström under the season to one of the biggest profiles in the series.

The apartment with perhaps the best location in the club belongs to the Konkar striker. The advantages of a small town are the sense of community: the club’s supporters are very active and help the players in everything possible.

Australian national team player Katrina Gorry said Vittsjön in the chosen one For the sake of their daughter Harper – the retired club members organized a care ring during practices and games.

The city’s size and location can be seen as downsides. Vittsjö had only 1,796 inhabitants at the turn of the decade. The team’s players live in the nearest slightly larger town in Hässleholm, from where the journey to the “really big city” Malmö takes an hour and a quarter by car.

– It is difficult to get Swedes here, when this is quite remote. Stockholm girls don’t want to come here, Sällström laughs.

On the other hand, good care is taken of those who arrive in Vittsjö. Many foreign players also speak highly of Vittsjö to their national team colleagues.

In Vittsjø, there is also an opportunity to study or work outside football. The team, like many Damallsvenskan clubs, has suffered from financial problems and cannot compete with wages.

Sällström has promised to act as a driver on the way to one of Hässleholm’s ten best attractions. The Vatterydi burial ground is just as small as it sounds – and on a rainy, gray spring day, the rolling stone boulders in the field don’t really evoke big gasps of wow.

But on the list of Hässleholm’s most attractive sights, it is sixth.

And if brooding is good for something, it’s for spirits to speak.

Bonus races

On Friday, Sällström started qualifying for the summer 2025 European Championships with the Helmares. The result was dull: Norway was better in every area and opened the EC qualifiers with a clear 4–0 victory.

The 35-year-old Sällström started as usual in the attack of the Helmarei. In the previous EC qualifiers, he was Finland’s best scorer with ten hits. Belgium only Tine De Caigny scored more goals in the qualifiers.

When Sällström started the 2019 qualifiers, he played in Paris and thought that the qualifiers and the following European Championships would be the last of his career.

– At that time, I was quite ready to quit football. I thought that I would bite the bullet and make it through the European Championships in England and then I would finally be able to stop. It’s been a while since they were released and I’m still playing. Let’s see if I ever stop! Sällström snorts.

Now the starting points are very different.

The Damallsvenska season starting this weekend is Sällström’s third consecutive visit to Sweden.

He has played in Sweden for more than ten years of his life – he first moved to Stockholm when he joined Djurgården at the age of 18.

Sällström enjoys playing again, and life is also very different.

Even last year, he was pushing his medical studies alongside playing.

– The days were really long, at six in the morning I left home and school straight to training, from training at eight in the evening, then we cooked and studied a little more. There wasn’t really time left for anything extra. There was no need to think about recovery when there was no time for such a thing! Every minute of the day had to be used to advantage.

Now school is on break again and the focus is on football. According to Sällström, school would have been an impossible equation with continuing a football career.

– After the League of Nations, I got the feeling that it went well enough that at least I was still able to manage in those rough spots, so I wanted to continue. I couldn’t wait to finish half a year before the Games, I’m ready to see the project through to the end. This is now all in, I’m betting on futsal and that the European Championship qualifiers become an European Championship venue.

Sällström is by far the best goal scorer with 59 hits in the A national teams. The Konkar striker has a respectable 136 international matches.

It also involves Sällström’s next goal: to break Anna Westerlund international match record. Westerlund ended his handsome career in December 2022. Before that, he had time to play 147 A national matches and three adult EC championships.

For Sällström, the summer 2025 European Championships would be the third in his career: he was already involved in 2009, but a knee injury kept the attacker out of the 2013 Swedish Championships. In the summer of 2022, Sällström was responsible for Finland’s only goal of the tournament when he scored against Spain after only 48 seconds of play.

– Yes, the 2025 European Championship would be attractive. Those would be nice bonus races, because I really didn’t think that I would play again then. Breaking Anna Westerlund’s record is perhaps a little motivating, Sällström begins.

– But it’s not in my hands. Make (head coach Marko Saloranta) decides who is invited and who plays.

Sällström’s free early day is coming to an end. Soon we have to start the car and drive back to the center of Hässleholm. From there, Sällström is leaving for training with a carpool organized by the club.

The noise surprised me

Sällström made big headlines in Sweden after reaching out to IFK Göteborg supporters after a cup match at the beginning of March. The supporters shouted insults at Vittsjö’s players and the referee throughout the match, which angered Sällström.

After the match, Sällström marched to the supporters and told his opinion about their behavior. The supporters were not happy about the trick, but slapped the Finnish star in the face with a flag.

Sällström has been allowed to talk about the subject until he is tired.

In addition to Sweden and Finland, the topic also attracted international interest. Last the international players’ association Fifpro published on the subject the story at the beginning of April.

Sällström has received a lot of support but also criticism. Some think that Sällström should get used to the shouting familiar from “men’s fields”.

– Why should anyone have to put up with inferior language and misogynistic slurs? I think it is really important to announce at the same time that we do not accept this, that it is not normalized. The majority of supporters behave well, but we can’t let a small minority of idiots define where the line is, what should be tolerated, Sällström sighs.

Sällström brought up the matter already in the middle of the match and went to discuss the matter with the referee. The referee replied that he can’t do anything about it during the match, but he can write a report after the match.

– We had a referee’s visit last week, where I asked about it again, whether there really is nothing that can be done. Hearing when the delegates are not present, the referee cannot stop the game.

Sällström is saddened by the situation.

– We athletes should be allowed to focus on our work, on playing sports, and such situations should be handled by others. I’m not saying it’s only the referee’s job, the game organizer also has a responsibility. Why weren’t these people thrown out?

Sällström has a clear message for misbehaving supporters.

– If you don’t know how to behave, you don’t have to come at all. You can go home and learn manners and then come back.

It’s time to start driving back towards the center of Hässleholm.

Sällström jumps behind the wheel with pleasure, because he is excited to follow the formula series that has gained great popularity on the streaming service. After all, he is not responsible for driving his carpooler, because the parking spaces near Sällström’s home are tight.

Even before the exercises, you would have to grab something to eat, even though it is available during the exercises as well.

– Tomorrow Eva will bring chocolate muffins and yesterday Bert had brought juice and chocolate, Sällström laughs.

But how does snacking fit into an athlete’s everyday life?

– After all, it’s important to refuel your car!

The Finnish women’s national football team will face Italy in their second match of the European Championship qualifiers. Broadcast on TV2, Areena and the app from 18:45.