They played at The Showgrounds: Johan Elmander
IN the continuation of our mini series, colerainefc.com’s Jonathan McNabb delves into the archives to remind supporters of great names who have graced the turf on the Ballycastle Road…
For this issue, we remember Swedish striker Johan Elmander who faced Coleraine in the UEFA Cup with Orgryte IS in 2000. The marksman, who won 85 caps for his country and played at top international tournaments, would play in several top leagues in Europe such as Holland, France, England and Turkey throughout his career.
Johan Elmander was born in Alingsås, Alingsås Municipality on May 2, 1981. He started his career as a striker for Swedish clubs but changed to a centre midfielder Holmalunds IF and Örgryte, before making the move to Dutch club Feyenoord at the age of 18, where he continued to be used as a midfielder. Although never a first team regular, he came on as a substitute in the 2002 UEFA Cup Final 3–2 win against Borussia Dortmund.
Elmander was subsequently put on loan back in Sweden with Djurgården, where he won the double of both Allsvenskan championship and Swedish Cup title in 2002 and Allsvenskan in 2003.
After spending a year on loan at Dutch side NAC Breda, he was bought by Danish Superliga outfit Brøndby. Despite not scoring as many goals for the club as was expected, he was the playmaker and creative spark of the Brøndby team in the 2004–05 Superliga season, playing mainly as the free-roaming forward behind the sole striker in manager Michael Laudrup’s 4–3–3 formation. The team won the double of both the Danish Superliga and the Danish Cup title, and Elmander was voted Brøndby’s Player of the Year.
In 2006, Elmander would be on the move once again as he penned a deal with French side Toulouse and he scored 11 goals in his first season, which meant he was shortlisted as player of the year by his fellow players. The season was very successful, with Elmander helping lead Toulouse to a third-place finish and a berth in the qualifying rounds of UEFA Champions League. The second season, much like that of his team, was much more irregular, and though he scored the same number of goals as he did the previous season, he was less decisive.
The bright lights of the Premier League came calling as the Swede joined Bolton Wanderers in 2008 for a club record £8.2 million. Elmander’s first Premier League goal, a header, came on his competitive debut, against Stoke City on 16 August 2008 in a 3–1 win. Elmander played 30 games in the 2008–09 season, scoring five goals and creating two assists.
After a barren spell in front of goal the following campaign, Elmander finally found his goalscoring form in the 2010–11 season, scoring six goals in the opening 13 games, all away from the Reebok Stadium. His first home goals of the season came against Newcastle United, giving him a joint lead as top scorer in the Premier League. However, his goalscoring form dipped and he scored just three goals between December and a goal on 12 March against Birmingham City in an FA Cup Sixth round tie. This brought his goal tally for all competitions to eleven for the season.
On 27 May 2011, Elmander arrived in Turkey on his birthday, and on 30 May 2011, Elmander joined Galatasaray in a three-year deal on a free transfer after his contract expired at Bolton in the same month. He debuted on the second week of the Süper Lig season, coming on in the 61st minute and scored his first goal in a 3–1 home win over Samsunspor on 18 September.
Due to his great performance, Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim changed the team’s formation to a 4–4–2, allowing Elmander to play together with fellow striker Milan Baroš simultaneously. On 26 February 2012, he scored the opening and the winning goal of the game against Beşiktaş in a 3–2 win, and also scored goals in all derby matches, including against Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor. He scored 12 goals in 36 league matches in a season which saw Galatasaray crowned league champions.
Elmander would end his career with a loan spell at Norwich City for a year, before returning to Brondby for two years and a final stop at Orgryte for a single season.
On the international scene, Elmander would win 80 caps, scoring 25 goals – including a strike against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in March 2007. He represented his country at the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
The match was played at The Showgrounds on Thursday, August 10, 2000 as the Bannsiders held home advantage for the first leg.
It would prove to be a short-timed affair for Elmander as he was substituted after 22 minutes following a tackle from Pat McAllister, with another former Premier League star making an appearance from the bench in the form of Marcus Allbäck.
Kevin McKeown had good reason to look towards the heavens: he had contributed to a defiant Coleraine performance only for his heroics to be under mined by one error.
With barely 10 minutes remaining and the Bannsiders heading for a memorable 1-1 draw with the Swedish Cup holders, the big ‘keeper’s attempted clearance went disastrously wrong. Orgryte IS substitute Erik Johansson latched onto the wayward kick, exchanged passes with Christian Hemberg and flighted his 18-yard shot high over the retreating McKeown.
It was particularly galling for the Scot who had repeatedly repelled the best the much-vaunted Swedish strike force could produce; on at least six occasions McKeown brought off top-class saves.
Nevertheless, this was a highly encouraging performance by Coleraine – new boys Ryan McLaughlin, Ian McCoosh and Jody Tolan showing up well.
McKeown was pressed into action early on, producing a double save to deny Hemberg and Elmander but he was powerless for the game’s opening goal after eight minutes.
A long ball from Anegrund caused confusion in the defence and Hemberg nipped in to lob the ball into an empty net.
Marty Quinn introduced wingers Mark Picking and Kevin Keegan at the interval and it almost paid dividends, McAllister just missing with a header from six yards after 54 minutes.
Coleraine got their reward for some enter prising play minutes later. Michael Smyth’s curling free-kick from the right was headed home by McLaughlin.
Orgryte threatened again but McKeown stood his ground to block Hemberg’s shot from six yards. When he palmed away sub Marcus Allback’s fiercely hit drive 10 minutes later it seemed a draw was on the cards.
COLERAINE: McKeown, Clanachan, Smyth, Gaston, Devine, McLaughlin, Loughery (Keegan ’46 mins), McCoosh, Tolan (Kerr ’84 mins), McAllister, Gray (Picking ’46 mins).
Subs Not Used: Anderson (GK), McAuley, McCann, Dallas.
ORGRYTE IS: Last, Owusu, Karlsson (Allback ’67 mins), Nilsson, Kallander, Lohm (Stostedt ’75 mins), Tomaz Jnr, Ulander, Anegrund, Elmander (Johansson ’22 mins), Hemberg.
Subs Not Used: Perstedt (GK), Lofgren, Lindqvist, Kuhn.
Referee: Yuri Baskakov (Russia)
*Many thanks to Hunter McClelland for supplying the report*