Portland Timbers vs. AIK Preview Interview with Georg Süss

I initiated contact with Georg Süss who writes for to continue the tradition of answering questions for the upcoming match. Geoff and Ryan were kind enough to let me ask the questions.

The answers are fantastic. I asked a mixture of the usual report on the team but also asked about the organization, its history and traditions. Read below about the players to look out for, Paul McCartney's song turned into an anthem, and moments of magic.

Who are AIK's marquee players and who should we look out for on Sunday?

Since two of our more flamboyant players such as Mutumba (is with the Uganda national team playing a qualifyer) and Borges (not fully fit after injury) are not playing i would have to go with our winger Atakora (national for Togo). He's been with us for less than a year and really impressed me thus far.

Defensively our left back and vice-captain Nisse Johansson is our top boy. Trust me when I say that there will be no goals coming from that side. I would also like to mention our young hero Viktor Lundberg who is born and raised in AIK. His main problem is that he is almost too versatile and can play all positions from midfield and up but it is agreed that we should consider him a forward in 2012 and he proved himself when scoring against Chivas. Here is Viktor scoring in his Allsvenska debut back in 2009 when he played right-winger.

Is there a style of football that describes AIK?

During my years as a supporter a strong defense has always been significant for AIK success. As an example we only conceeded 15 goals when we won the title in 1998. This coming season will be no different as we, already last year, had our defense in good order. The players are extremely disciplined when it comes to press play. The key to our defensive success is that all the players really do the work. You'll see no AIK player mucking about when the opposing team has the ball. They get straight in position to win the ball back. Preferably as high up in the field as possible.

Historicly AIK is also affiliated with its own term, Smokinglir. The English traslation to this might seem kinda odd but its basically "tuxedo play(ing)".* Partially because we always play in black shirts and white shorts and partially because AIK was really good in the 1930's playing some very elegant football when the term Smokinglir was born. This is also why one of the supporter clubs are named Smokinglirarna. They also cater more to the needs of our older supporters.

*Author's note: Smoking = tuxedo in Swedish. Blame the French.

What has AIK achieved recently and what are their goals this year in Allsvenskan?

Recent years has seen a historic double in 2009, the club's first. A catastrophic follow up in 2010 where we struggled to avoid relegation. A nice 2011 that saw AIK do really well thanks to hard work and some successful budget signings. I cant really stress enough how happy we are with the key staff managing our club at the moment. Sports director Jens Andersson, head scout Björn Wesström, and coach Andreas Alm are, for many fans, stars just big as the guys on the pitch. This being the final year at Råsunda [our stadium] there can be only one aim, win baby, just win.

What is the best moment in the history of AIK? If you need to describe more than one go ahead.

I would have to choose two. Obviously the clubs first double in 2009 is an epic tale in of itself. It all came down to the last game that was away against our fierce rivals Göteborg [Gothenburg for you anglophones]. We needed a draw to win the title, they were in second place and needed to win. We were trailing 0-1 after the fist half but in the second half we turned the tide and our captain who has been with the club since 1999 scored the winner. We also beat the same Göteborg in the cup final AND the supercup. M A G I C ! However, the thing that defined me as a supporter was our relegation in 2004 and the struggle back in 2005. The last home game of 2004 was without a crowd due to events on a prior derby. We lost, got relegated and our team captain was sent off. This was a time of clenched fists and really made the club come toghether after years of mis-management. I personally feel that my soul as an AIK supporter would not be whole if i had not experienced both these moments.

2005 - "AIK takes the step up to Allsvenskan" [The reporter: "The journey from relegation to promotion has been turbulent."]

2009 "AIK Swedish Champions Lennart is home" [Lennart Johanssons Pokal is the name of Allsvenskan's trophy]

Is there a bit of a struggle for Allsvenskan to gain attention in the local sports media being so close to the best leagues and clubs in the world, or is it complimentary? I often see Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting a lot of press time when I look at Swedish websites.

Allsvenskan is very loved and gets more than its fair share of publicity and attention. I may say this because AIK is the club that, by far, gets the most media attention but I think that is the case in general. I do however see tendencies that younger people are getting more and more into major clubs that are featured weekly on Champions League and so on. Hopefully this will just help to create a general interest in the sport and when they eventually realize it is a sport best viewed live they will come to the stadiums. Since widespead cable and satellite tv and all the footy-tv it brings is only about 20 years old in Sweden it is still hard to say what the long term effects might be. Zlatan is a superstar and media writes about him everyday because they know that even the average Joe (or Joanne for that matter) wants to read it. Quite frankly I couldn't care less myself.

Is there anything special planned for the last year in your stadium? And how is the transition to the new stadium going to affect the Black Army? Where did the phrase "Råsundas gräs växer mot himlen," (Råsunda's grass grows towards heaven, link) come from?

Lots of things are planned for the last season but we still keep a lid on it for best effect... There will be a Norra Stå (north stand) at Swedbank Arena just as there is at Råsunda.

The phrase comes from an old AIK-song called Råsundas Gräs which itself is an adaptation to the Paul McCartney / Wings song called Mull of Kintyre. The most famous AIK-song and also the song played before each home game is "Åh vi e AIK" [Oh we are AIK] is also an adaptation. It was written by Roger Whittaker but, apart from the AIK-version, I like Elvis' version the most. The KING. ;)

Paul McCartney & Wings - Mull of Kintyre (1977)

Elvis - The Last Farewell (1976)

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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