In the Swedish capital, Stockholm, football loyalties have traditionally been divided between AIK Solna, Djurgårdens IF FF and Hammarby but a there is, it seems, a new kid in town.
After seven rounds of the 2009 Allsvenskan the big three were being eclipsed by one of the city's more unfashionable names, Brommapojkarna. The minnows were the capital's top side, sitting fourth in only their second season in the top flight though a 3-0 defeat by leaders Helsingborgs IF on Monday saw them drop to eighth, AIK among the teams moving above them but Djurgården and Hammarby remain off the pace. "The simple explanation for our strong start is that we've got competent, but underrated players," coach Kim Bergstrand told uefa.com. "Most people don't have a clue about the players in our squad."
Brommapojkarna, named after the district from which they hail in western Stockholm, were relegated on their first foray into the Allsvenskan in 2007. That did not affect the players, though, and having won promotion at the first attempt, they have started the new campaign all the better for their experiences. "I'm sure that season taught them what it takes," added Bergstrand. "That goes for the entire club, which has become more professional."
Bergstrand's opinions are echoed by captain Jon Persson, part of the squad which was relegated two years ago and veteran of over 200 league games for the club. "That year was particularly valuable for the younger guys," said the 32-year-old defender. "Now that we're back, most of them have already played at the highest level in Sweden, despite being barely 20."
Persson played for Djurgården before joining BP – as the club is often called – in 2000, while Bergstrand represented Hammarby and AIK in his playing days. The big three can always count on thousands of passionate fans at their matches, though for Brommapojkarna it is their youth system from which they draw strength. "When we played Djurgården [a 2-0 away win on 24 April) we ended the match with eight players who had started out with BP's boys' team."
The club's youth setup is one of the best in Sweden. Over the years, it has supplied a steady stream of talent to bigger clubs, with notable alumni including Anders Limpar, an English league and cup winner with Arsenal FC and Everton FC, centre-back Daniel Majstorovic and Juventus's Under-21 international Albin Ekdal. Persson is proud of the quality churned out by "the factory". "Players from the factory have gone on to greater things on an individual level than what the club itself has," he said. "We joke about it in the senior team when a player leaves for a bigger club – no problem, the factory will send us a new one right away."