Tabloid declares war on England over ?Svennis?

He’s been mocked, bullied and had his private life dragged through the the gutter press. But while Sven-Göran Eriksson, the Swede in charge of the English football team, has kept his legendary cool amid the tabloid rage, a Swedish paper has decided to strike back.

Expressen reporter Tommy Schönstedt has launched a one-man campaign to tell the English to lay off their captain – and now he’s heading to the British capital to try and change public opinion.

“We have had enough now. This means war,” declared Schönstedt in an article published in English on Expressen’s website on Wednesday.

“They do not understand that he has turned a bunch of bone breakers on muddy football pitches into a World Cup team.”

Schönstedt suggests that Eriksson, known in Sweden as Svennis, should be knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

To make sure his point went home (and to get a decent photo-opportunity for his paper), Schönstedt took his campaign to the British Embassy in Stockholm. Carrying a placard bearing the legend “Don’t touch our Svennis,” the journalist demanded to see Ambassador Anthony Cary.

Unable to make the Ambassador himself emerge (“obviously not brave enough,” in Schönstedt’s view), the journalist eventually had to make do with press attaché Damion Potter, who tried to defuse the brewing diplomatic row by elegantly refusing to take sides.

Challenged to agree that Eriksson was a hero, Potter would only admit “Sven is a hero if we win the World Cup.”

Hoping to win Brits over to less conditional support for the England captain, Schönstedt is now taking his battle to the enemy.

The Local got through to him as he was going through passport control at London’s Heathrow Airport.

“I’m going to convert the English,” Schönstedt promised, sounding more like a missionary than a warrior.

And how does he plan to persuade them?

“I’m going to stand on Oxford Street with a placard, which will say “Shame on you! Don’t harrass Sven – he’s your hero!”

Schönstedt says he is convinced he can turn the English fans around.

“England has never won as many points as it has under Sven-Göran Eriksson,” he said.

But surely it was a bit embarrassing to get beaten by Northern Ireland?

“But they won their group, so Svennis has done what he promised.”