Quick, skilful and blessed with the footballing intelligence to play in a host of different positions, Sweden’s Elin Rubensson certainly has plenty of arguments in her favour in the race for a place in senior coach Pia Sundhage’s squad for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
And were all those qualities not enough, the 21-year-old starlet has recently switched clubs – ending a five-year spell at FC Rosengård/LDB FC Malmö to join Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC – in a bid to secure the regular starting berth that should definitively stamp her ticket to Canada 2015.
“Of course there’s a better chance of getting picked for the Women’s World Cup when you play 90 minutes every week. That’s my goal and so I think this club change will improve my chances,” said Rubensson, speaking exclusively to Women’s Soccer United.
It is an opinion shared by her new club coach Stefan Rehn: “Given her quality and versatility I think she’s pretty much certain to go to the World Cup, and I hope her experience with the national team will give her the confidence to do even more out on the pitch. At the moment I see her as a good footballer who, if we can give her more confidence and stability, could become great,” said the former midfielder, who represented Sweden at the World Cup in USA in 1994.
“She wasn’t playing every week at FC Rosengård but I felt that, given the qualities she has, she can play almost anywhere,” continued Rehn. “We’d been looking for someone who’s comfortable on the right wing, and she’s capable of playing as a striker, a right-winger and even as a right- or left-back. She’s fast, reads the game very well, is technically good and is strong in one-on-one situations, both in defence and attack. I’m really happy that we’ve signed her, I think she’s going to make a big contribution.”
Yet while Rehn feels that giving Rubensson “a settled role in the team will help increase her confidence and self-belief”, the player herself is relaxed on the positional shifts that have characterised her career so far for both club and country. “To be honest, there are things I enjoy in every position. I really don’t mind playing in any of them,” insisted Rubensson, who was the tournament’s top scorer and ‘Golden Player’ as a No10 in Sweden’s triumph at the UEFA Women’s European U-19 Championship 2012.
And assuming she does make the cut for Canada 2015, set to run from 6 June to 5 July, what would she most look forward to? “If I’m selected it would be a huge experience to take on the world’s best teams and represent my country at that level,” she said, as the interview drew to a close. “We’ve had a challenging draw [in Group D alongside 2011 runners-up USA, Australia and Nigeria] and every game will be tough, but that’s how it should be! We’re dreaming of going all the way to the Final and, with the players we’ve got, I think it’s possible.”
UK-born but currently based in Spain, I’ve been covering men’s and women’s football for UEFA.com for several years, including trips to two Women’s U-19 European Championships