John Guidetti is tipped for the top
The 18-year-old Manchester City starlet has grown up watching fellow Scandinavian marksman Zlatan Ibrahimovic progress through the ranks at Ajax before becoming a coveted name on the world stage with prolific spells at Juventus, Inter Milan and Barcelona which resulted in a successful loan move back to the San Siro, this time with AC Milan.
And now, after being tipped by a Swedish newspaper to line-up alongside his idol at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Guidetti wants to make sure that his performances with the Clarets push him into the ascendency for a dream selection in national coach Erik Hamren’s squad.
The prolific teenager said: “You always want to represent your country at the highest level. It’s a dream for you as a young kid. My dream is to play with Ibrahimovic, who is my idol. I look up to him.
“I saw in the newspaper the other day that they put the 2014 World Cup team in, if we get there, and they put my name next to Ibrahamovic. I’d be 22 and he’d be 32. That would be a great dream for me, to play in Brazil.
“It’s a dream that’s possible as well. I think it’s something that can happen. That’s the best part of it. But you have to come into training every day and work hard, and you have to go home and work hard. You have to give extra every time you get a chance and put your own motivation to it, because it’s a full-time job and if you want to make it you have to work hard.”
Guidetti has etched his name on the scoresheet 14 times in as many games for Sweden’s under 19 national squad, which earned a deserved promotion to the under 21 side for their 2011 UEFA European Championship qualification campaign. An injury to striker Agon Mehmeti saw him obtain a place in the starting XI in the 1-0 win over Israel in Montenegro back in June.
Coach Jorgen Lennartsson then drafted Guidetti back into the under 19 squad where he scored against Poland but then he marked another under 21 cap with an assist in a 1-0 win over Bulgaria. However, the Swede’s lost 5-2 on aggregate to Switzerland in a play-off, hence Guidetti missed out on a chance to shine at the finals in Denmark.
“I would have gone for sure,” said Guidetti. “But that’s another reason I’m here as well because I hope I can get spotted by the Swedish national first team.
“The problem has been that I haven’t been playing first team football. It’s the same in the Under 21s, even though every time I played for them I did really, really well. I came on against Bulgaria away and I put the ball in the box for a tap-in for a team-mate and we won the game.
“We have Martin Olsson that plays for the team we shouldn’t speak about across the road – he plays for the first team, he came on for the Swedish first team and scored two goals but he didn’t get picked for the next game because he didn’t play regularly.
“People in Sweden don’t understand this is the first team we’re talking about, and City we’re talking about for me in this case. If I put Tevez on the bench I shouldn’t be in the Under 21s, I should be number 10 and captain of the Swedish first team and telling the manager what to do.”
After signing for Manchester City as a 15-year-old in April 2008, Guidetti returned to his homeland with IF Brommapojkarna in hope of putting himself on the radar of his international coaches. It’s worked once, now he wants to make the step up.
He said: “Maybe they want to pick the Swedish players because they play in the highest league in Sweden. That’s why I went home to Sweden, I played seven games and scored three and set three up.
“I wanted to prove to the Swedish people that maybe that’s not the level you want to be looking at. Maybe you want to come over and look when we play United’s reserves when they play 11 first team players to put me in the national team.
“But this is a great chance to show the first team manager, because they show some Championship games in Sweden on the television, so maybe if he isn’t able to come over and watch then he can maybe put on his television.”
And the young prodigy has certainly come up against some experiences faces since signing for the Premier League’s richest club. Outings for the reserves has seen him challenge England internationals such as Gary Neville, Sol Campbell and Michael Carrick.
He added: “I’ve got a bit of first team action with City, I’ve been training with them and I’ve played in the Carling Cup and in pre-season games and I’ve been in the squad a couple of times. But this move is more for me to get some experience.
“I’ve had some in Sweden, playing in the Swedish higher division, but maybe it’s not as good as the Championship. Maybe it’s like League One or the bottom of the Championship.
“Of course I want to play but I’ve been lucky because I’ve played in the City reserve games and the opposition usually puts out a very strong side against us. When we play United they have 11 first team players with the likes of Gary Neville, Anderson, Carrick etc, so it’s a very strong team.
“At Wigan they also have four or five (first team players) and the last time we played against Newcastle they had Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor as centre halves, who had been starting for the first team. That’s been a good challenge for me and I feel like I’ve still got quite good games in me and I’ve been training really well.”
But while he would love to represent his country, Guidetti’s initial aim is to represent the Clarets and prove his legitimacy as a goalscoring threat.
“I always want to do extra,” he said. “I don’t like resting; I like training hard. It gives me the chance to prove to the manager every time in training. I’ve had another week now to prove to him that I’m the man he should put up top and I’m the man he should trust in. I’m working hard in training, giving 100% and showing him what I’m made of.”
He added: “I want to score goals. In 10 games I’ve started in the season I’ve scored 10 goals, so I want to keep that record up.
“Of course it’s difficult now because it’s not the reserves any more, it’s the first team, but I think as long as you try to get into that box and work 100% for the team that’s all you can do. You can always run and give 100% even if it doesn’t go your way on the day.”
But whatever Guidetti’s future holds and whatever his fate may be, he insists he’ll never forget his roots or ignore how fortunate he is. After developing as a young player in the slums of Kenya, the next big step for Burnley’s borrowed ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ could be at a world stage surrounded by the favelas of Brazil.
“I learned a lot from my years in Africa and I know how grateful I should be for everything,” said Guidetti. “Many people have it hard in life. There are so many good footballers over there that are probably never going to make it because they’re not going to get spotted.
“That’s why I’m not going to let this chance go. I’m going to give it 100%, take the opportunity and use it.”
‘I like training hard. It gives me the chance to prove to the manager every time in training. I’ve had another week now to prove to him that I’m the man he should put up top and I’m the man he should trust in’