Photo: Ville Vuorinen.
Linda Sällström Interview on Women’s Soccer United
Linda Sällström: I’m playing the best season of my career
Linda Sällström has had to fight back from three ACL injuries in three years, which she has done so in style, to become the current second leading goalscorer in the Swedish Damallsvenskan and a key player for her national team, Finland.
Sällström is mentally strong and an extemely talented striker with fantastic speed and a keen eye for goal.
In an exclusive interview with Women’s Soccer United, Linda opens up about her struggle with injury, this season’s progess with Swedish club Vittsjö GIK as well as the developments in the Finland WNT as they embark on their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 qualifying campaign this month.
Women’s Soccer United: You have faced a number of tough set-backs in your career due to season ending injuries. What kept you going during these hard times?
Linda Sällström: I had the most amazing physio who helped me tremendously and I got a lot of support from family and friends. And since I “only” injured my ACL every time and didn’t suffer from any meniscal or cartilage damage, I felt that medically and physiologically there weren’t any reasons why I couldn’t come back from my injuries. I felt that it was up to me and I didn’t want to give up and then regret it later. Of course 3 ACL injuries in 3 years has been mentally very hard at times and at times I did consider quitting, but right now I’m playing the best season of my career and I’m very happy that I decided to give football another chance.
Women’s Soccer United: Finland unfortunately missed out on a place at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Championship, what lessons were learnt which can be used to help avoid similar disappointment in the future?
Linda Sällström: I think that the women’s game has been progressing very fast and some countries in Europe have taken huge steps in only a few years. I feel that Finland hasn’t been able to quite keep up with that progress and now we need to do something to catch up.
Women’s Soccer United: What does recently appointed Anna Signeul bring as coach of the Finland Women’s National Team?
Linda Sällström: I think that it’s a good thing that we brought in someone from “the outside” that can maybe see things from another point of view and come in with some fresh and new thinking. She did a good job with Scotland and took them to their first big tournament, so she has the experience of taking a team to the next level. I hope she can do the same with us.
Women’s Soccer United: How satisfied are you with Finland’s preparations ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 qualifiers?
Linda Sällström: Of course it would have been great if we could have had our new head coach already during the spring to give us more time to prepare, but we did manage to get two good games against Portugal now in September and I believe that Anna got some answers from those games. I do feel that we are prepared for the qualifiers starting in October.
Women’s Soccer United: What are your thoughts on Finland’s Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019 qualifying group opponents (Austria, Israel, Serbia, Spain)?
Linda Sällström: The group is tough, but so are we.;)
We faced Spain in the Euro qualifiers, but they were stronger than us. But, now we have brought in Anna and she knows how to beat Spain, she did it in the Euros with Scotland, so I feel that we will be well prepared.
I was very impressed with Austria in the Euros, they have taken huge steps in the last few years and they will be hard to beat.
All and all I think that it’s a tough group, where many of the teams have a chance to beat each other and I don’t think that any team in this group will go through the qualification unbeaten.
Women’s Soccer United: You have been playing in Sweden for several years now, enjoying success along the way. What appeals to you the most about competing in the Damallsvenskan?
Linda Sällström: The league is competitive and usually very even. Especially this year the games have been very unpredictable, the bottom teams have beaten the top teams and it’s very even throughout the whole table. Every game and every point really count, it’s very exciting.
Women’s Soccer United: Vittsjö GIK currently sit 8th in the Swedish Damallsvenskan (at time of this interview). How would you assess your season so far, both from a club and on a personal perspective?
Linda Sällström: Personally I have been playing the best season of my career and scoring a lot of goals, but as a club I feel that we haven’t reached our full potential. I don’t think that our 8th place reflects the quality of our team, we know we can do better.
Women’s Soccer United: You are well known for your goalscoring prowess (currently 2nd top goalscorer in the league). Have you got any special targets in mind at international and club level?
Linda Sällström: I have just tried to enjoy myself and lived in the moment. I know how fast things can change and I know that things don’t often go as you planned. So I try not to get ahead of myself and instead just try to focus on doing everything as well as I can, right here and right now, and then see where that takes me.
Women’s Soccer United: Can you share with us one of your top international football moments to date?
Linda Sällström: The Euros in Finland 2009. It was very special to play a big tournament in front of a home crowd.
Women’s Soccer United: What are your best skills as a striker and what are you working on improving further?
Linda Sällström: I have always been very fast and now I have improved my finishing too, but I still have some work left to do with my leftie.
Women’s Soccer United: What’s your view on the state of women’s football right now?
Linda Sällström: As I said before, the women’s game has grown and developed a lot and the quality of the game has taken huge steps since I started playing internationally. The Euros this summer proved this and also showed that there is a big interest and huge potential in women’s football. I hope that FIFA, Uefa and the national associations will acknowledge this and see the potential and let the women’s game grow.