Australian Four Four Two - - UPFRONT -

No Eng­land player has been in­volved in more than six ma­jor fi­nals, but English­man Paul Bal­som is off to his eighth this year – all for Swe­den. The for­mer Torquay youth player al­ready has two day jobs – head of sports sci­ence and per­for­mance anal­y­sis at Le­ices­ter City, plus a role with ex-Foxes boss Nigel Pear­son at sis­ter club OH Leu­ven. He’ll also be go­ing to the World Cup in the sum­mer as the per­for­mance man­ager for Swe­den, hav­ing been part of their back­room staff since Euro 2000. This will be his third World Cup. Swe­den failed to qual­ify for the 2010 and 2014 fi­nals, but Bal­som did help Blag­ult boss Janne An­der­s­son to se­cure a stun­ning play-off vic­tory over Italy, book­ing their place in Rus­sia. “This is my eighth ma­jor tour­na­ment and it’s still ex­cit­ing,” Bal­som ex­plains to FFT. “The play-off win against Italy was so spe­cial. Their record at the San Siro is just ridicu­lous, so to hold them in the se­cond leg was an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment.” His next task: how to beat the Ger­mans. Good luck, Paul...

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