By Philip O’Connor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Galloping defender Robin Jansson completed a superb season by scoring the goal that secured the Swedish title for AIK on Sunday, seven months after leaving a job making horseshoes to join the Stockholmers from third-tier side Oddevold.
Jansson and his team mates knew that a win away to Kalmar would guarantee that they would lift the Lennart Johansson trophy, and the 26-year-old headed home a first-half goal that proved enough to give them a 1-0 victory and the title.
“It’s the sickest evening in my life, it’s completely wonderful,” a joyful Jansson told Swedish radio.
AIK finished the season on a club-record 67 points after 30 games, two points ahead of second placed IFK Norrkoping, and nine ahead of 2017 champions Malmo FF.
Former UEFA boss Johansson, 89, was on hand to see the club he has supported all his life secure their 12th Swedish league title, and the final whistle prompted a mass pitch invasion as AIK celebrated their first league win since 2009.
International midfielder Sebastian Larsson joined following Sweden’s success at the World Cup where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by England, bringing a wealth of experience from his time in the English Premier League.
“Wonderful, this is why I came home, to experience this. I felt the ambition of AIK as a club, and even if we’ve taken it slowly but surely the last few games no-one can complain, we deserve this,” he told Swedish television.
Late bloomer Jansson, who impressed AIK with his performance against them in a Swedish cup game for Oddevold, played a key role in that success after joining in April when the club had been hit by a series of injuries and other problems with defensive players.
Under coach Rikard Norling, AIK set records for clean sheets and goals conceded with the majestic Jansson one member of a watertight three-man backline together with Alexander Milosevic and Per Karlsson.
A disappointing scoreless draw with Sundsvall in front of more than 50,000 fans a week ago in Stockholm postponed the celebrations somewhat, but thousands of black-and-gold clad fans still made the long trip for the final game.
“We play at home wherever we go. Obviously it means a lot more when we can give the fans this. It’s been a good few years since the last time but now AIK are Swedish champions again,” Larsson said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; editing by Clare Fallon)