Back in Rotterdam after his Allsvenskan championship exploits with Djurgården, Johan Elmander is looking forward to opening a new chapter in his career book. ‘I wanted to get back “into Europe”, preferably with Feyenoord. It’s now down to me to prove myself. I have been given a chance and I have to hope that the coach thinks I’m good enough,’ says the striker. We wish him ‘lycka till!’

The player certainly looks fitter and stronger for his time in Sweden. More importantly, Elmander has a great deal more self confidence. ‘The switch to Djurgården was very good for me is. I now feel ready for Feyenoord, because I know how to play as a real number 9. In Sweden the coach had enormous confidence in me. That was very important for me because I started to score goals. I showed that I can do that and that I can play football. But most important of all was the fact that I finished the whole ninety minutes of every game. It all combined to give me back my confidence in my abilities. I had lost that after two years at Feyenoord. I thought I was training well, but I wasn’t playing. Obviously it was difficult to play Pierre out of the team. Now that he’s gone my chances of playing have increased. I wasn’t ready. I was not a good enough player and I did not have the mental strength. But I do not regret the transfer. It was good to come to Rotterdam. And people do not expect as much of me as they did then, which is also an advantage.’ Elmander grabbed a goal in his first game back on Dutch soil against Excelsior Maasluis and wasn’t too concerned about his lack of action in Austria. ‘I had a cold. I feeling better and better these last few days’. The exodus of experience from the Kuip has not reduced Feyenoord’s chances of the Dutch title, feels Elmander. ‘The transfers means that Feyenoord has a young squad this year, but sometimes it’s good to say farewell to older players. A couple of years ago Ajax had little routine in the team, but the side did very well. I am certain that we will do well too, but we will have to change our style. We no longer have a tall, striker who can hold the ball up. That is compensated by speed however.’
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