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Roland Nilsson
Personal information
Full name Roland Nilsson
Date of birth 27 November 1963 (1963-11-27) (age 46)
Place of birth    Helsingborg, Sweden
Playing position Defender (retired)
Club information
Current club Malmö FF (manager)
Youth career
1979–1981 Helsingborgs IF
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Helsingborgs IF
IFK Göteborg
Sheffield Wednesday
Helsingborgs IF
Coventry City
Helsingborgs IF
Coventry City
038 0(3)
124 0(7)
151 0(2)
064 0(0)
060 0(0)
000 0(0)
009 0(0)
446 (12)   
National team
1986–2000 Sweden 116 0(2)
Teams managed
Coventry City
Malmö FF

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Roland Nilsson (born 27 November 1963) is a Swedish football manager from Helsingborg, who currently manages Malmö FF in the Allsvenskan (the top tier of Swedish football). As a player, Nilsson played 116 times for Sweden, making him second only to Thomas Ravelli in international appearances for Sweden. He also won the UEFA Cup and played in the semi-finals of the World Cup, the European Championships, and the European Cup during a career lasting over two decades.

Nilsson began his playing career, during which he played predominantly as a right back, as a seventeen year-old with his hometown club Helsingborgs IF. He quickly established himself as a first-team player with Di Röe, earning himself the reputation of being one of the top youngsters in Swedish football. The quality of his performances was such that in 1983 he was signed by IFK Göteborg, who at that point were the pre-eminent team in Sweden.

Despite the promise that he had shown at Helsingborg, Nilsson spent most of his first two seasons with IFK on the bench. However, he did eventually establish himself in the team, first becoming a regular starter during the 1985 season. It was during the latter end of that season that IFK began their run to the semi-final of the European Cup; IFK knocked out the likes of Fenerbahçe and Aberdeen before eventually falling to FC Barcelona.

On 1 May 1986, shortly after IFK's European Cup exit, Nilsson made his international debut. Sweden's opponents in that game were Greece, the match ended 0-0. During the year that followed he played a key role in IFK's UEFA Cup success, during which the team knocked out, amongst others, Internazionale before beating Dundee United in the final. Besides this, IFK also won the Allsvenskan in 1987.

Nilsson left IFK in December 1989, joining Sheffield Wednesday of the English Football League First Division for £375,000. Despite being relegated at the end of his first season with the club, Nilsson decided to stay and helped them gain promotion at their first attempt. During the time he spent at Wednesday, Nilsson became a real favourite amongst the club's fans as his performances proved to be a catalyst for a footballing renaissance at Hillsborough. In the years that Nilsson played for the club, Wednesday won the League Cup in 1991, finished runner-up in the FA Cup and the League Cup in 1993, and played in Europe for the first time in thirty years. A number of Wednesday's fans still consider Nilsson to be the best right-back, and perhaps even the best foreigner, to ever play for the club. This was confirmed in 2007 when he came out top in a poll on Vital Football to find the club's greatest ever right-back.

While playing for Sheffield Wednesday, Nilsson also took part in two international tournaments for his country. The 1990 World Cup proved to be disastrous for Sweden, who were in the same group as Brazil, Scotland, and Costa Rica; Sweden lost all three matches 2-1. However, the team bounced back in Euro 92, which they hosted, as they reached the semi-finals. Nilsson played in all the games played by Sweden in both tournaments.

In January 1994, Nilsson announced that he was suffering from homesickness and asked to be sold to a Swedish club. His manager, Trevor Francis, convinced him to remain with the club until the end of the season in return for being given an unconditional release at that time. After leaving Sheffield Wednesday, Nilsson rejoined Helsingborg. That summer Nilsson also represented his country in the World Cup, he played every second as the team finished, somewhat surprisingly, in third place.

Nilsson spent the following three years playing for Helsingborg, during which time the club finished as runner-up in both the Allsvenskan and the Svenska Cupen. In 1996 he was awarded the Guldbollen, a trophy given each year to the best player from Sweden. At this point Nilsson had planned to see out the rest of his career with his hometown club. However, in 1997 Ron Atkinson, who had signed Nilsson when he was manager at Sheffield Wednesday, made a £200,000 offer to sign him for Coventry City, an offer that Nilsson accepted.

Despite being thirty-three, Nilsson was far from being the club's oldest player; Steve Ogrizovic and Kevin Richardson were both in their late-thirties, whilst Gordon Strachan was forty. The season started poorly for Coventry, a fact that saw Strachan replace Atkinson as manager in November 1997. The managerial change did little to improve matters with Coventry spending the entire season hovering around the relegation zone. On the final day of the season the team needed to beat Tottenham Hostpur in order to remain in the Premier League, a feat which the team pulled off.

Nilsson spent one further season at Coventry before once again returning to Helsingborg, where he spent the following two seasons. The last international tournament in which Nilsson played was Euro 2000. He started Sweden's opening game against the co-hosts, Belgium, however, he was substituted at half-time in the game with a concussion after he made an error which allowed Bart Goor to put Belgium ahead, Nilsson played no further part in the tournament. Despite this snub he played a further four games for Sweden, the last coming on 11 October 2000 against Slovakia, the result of that game, like his international debut, was 0-0.

Coventry were relegated from the Premier League in 2001, and, following a poor start to their first season in Football League Division One, Gordon Strachan was sacked. Nilsson was brought in as a player-caretaker-manager, despite having no managerial experience, in place of Strachan. Following a number of wins in his caretaker role, Nilsson was given the manager's job on a permanent basis, and the club briefly topped Division One after the turn of the new year. However, Coventry failed to live up to this early promise and the team were dogged by inconsistency for most of the season. As the Coventry fans became increasingly frustrated, Nilsson announced his retirement from playing in order to focus on managing the club. This was not to prove successful, and, with Coventry out of the playoff chase, Nilsson was sacked in April 2002. He was replaced a week later by former team-mate Gary McAllister.

After leaving Coventry, Nilsson briefly worked as a youth team coach at Helsingborg before becoming manager of GAIS on 18 December 2002. On 10 October 2007, Malmö FF announced that Nilsson has signed a four-year contract as coach, replacing Sören Åkeby. [1] A controversial move - Malmö are the main rivals of Helsingborg.


IFK Göteborg

Sheffield Wednesday

Helsingborgs IF

Sweden national team


  1. ^ "Roland Nilsson blir Malmö FF's nye tränare" (in Swedish). Malmö FF. 10 October 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-15.  

External Sources



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