OSTERSUND

From dress­ing as cows and danc­ing at galas, to win­ning tro­phies and de­feat­ing Gala: the Swedes’ crazy ca­pers have paid off hand­somely

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Poor old Zla­tan. When the leg­endary for­ward turned up at the Swedish Player of the Year gala at the end of 2016, all he prob­a­bly wanted to do was pick up the award for the 11th time and sneak off home. In­stead, he had to sit through a bizarre dance dis­play from the play­ers of Ostersund.

Ibrahi­movic looked rather non-plussed as the en­tire Ostersund squad com­pleted a care­fully chore­ographed rou­tine, jazz hands and all, to There’s No Business Like Show Business while wear­ing full kit (right). It wasn’t even the first time they had done mad stuff on stage, ei­ther. The squad pre­vi­ously took part in a pro­duc­tion of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and there was also a play in which de­fender Den­nis Wid­gren dressed up as a cow (above). Well, why not?

But if you thought this was the Allsven­skan out­fit’s way of com­pen­sat­ing for a lack of suc­cess on the field, you’d be wrong. They may be based in a small city 300 miles north of Stock­holm, but they’ve risen from the fourth tier to the top flight in re­cent sea­sons un­der the man­age­ment of for­mer Stoke full-back Gra­ham Pot­ter. Just months af­ter their dance per­for­mance in front of Zla­tan, they lifted the Swedish Cup and sealed a spot in the Europa League, where they only went and beat Galatasaray aided by a 92-minute goal from for­mer York City and Os­sett Town mid­fielder Jamie Hop­cutt.

And Ostersund’s stage per­for­mances have fos­tered team unity: for­mer army lieu­tenant Daniel Kind­berg, the club’s chair­man, be­lieves in tak­ing play­ers out of their com­fort zone for the sake of team bond­ing, and it has worked won­ders so far. But given the per­plexed look on Zla­tan’s face at that awards gala, he prob­a­bly won’t be sign­ing any time soon.

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