AIK’s diminutive English midfielder Kenny Pavey relaxes on the couch in the stylishly decorated Solna apartment he shares with his fiancee and two young children after a week spent training hard for the upcoming Allsvenskan football season.
Since joining in 2006, the 29-year-old Pavey’s skill and work-rate have made him a favourite with the fanatical AIK fans.
“He always gives 100 percent and has a great attitude with the fans, on and off the pitch,” says chairman of the AIK-Alliansen supporters group, Daniel Perez.
“In many ways he represents what we lacked during the 2004 season when we were relegated.”
With the 2009 Allsvenskan season fast approaching, new head coach Mikael Stahre will take charge of AIK for the first time. As ever, expectations will be high for one of Sweden’s most well supported clubs.
“There is a new coach, new everything,” comments Pavey.
“We have a good mix of experience and youth and it is exciting.”
For newcomers looking for a Swedish football team to support, “there is a great atmosphere at AIK. It’s the closest thing to England,” according to Pavey.
“There’s a lot of singing,” he adds.
Playing in 2007 UEFA Cup qualifiers and in front of 34,000 people in his first Stockholm derby against Djurgården are high points of Pavey’s career thus far.
It could have been very different had he joined Premiership giants Aston Villa from English non-league side Sittingbourne in 1998.
“I got scouted playing for Sittingbourne, I was having a good season,” remembers Pavey.
“I went up to Villa, played a game and played well and scored a goal and Villa put an offer on the table.”
Villa’s offer was rejected by Sittingbourne.
“I remember I was at Gillingham train station when I found out,” Pavey continues.
“I picked up a newspaper and the headline on the back page was ‘Pavey’s dream move falls through.’”
Pavey would loved to have had the opportunity to test himself alongside Villa stars Dwight Yorke, Stan Collymore and Gareth Barry and says with honesty that the whole Villa saga is, “the highest and lowest point of my life.”
The Aston Villa scout that spotted Pavey then offered him the opportunity to play for Swedish lower division side Ljungskile.
A productive season in the first division, including a good performance against AIK then led to his dream move.
Having been in Sweden for seven years he speaks the language well and enjoys the lifestyle.
“I love Stockholm, I think it’s like a little London,” he enthuses.
“Sweden is a beautiful country with good values and having a family now makes me realize what good safe hands we are in.”
That’s not to say that the South Londoner doesn’t have some cravings from home.
“I miss proper pie and mash! And my family and friends,” he exclaims before stoping himself with laughter.
“I can’t believe I just said I miss pie and mash before my family and friends!”
When his playing career is over he hopes to continue to work in football.
Had he not made it as a professional Pavey is the kind of football enthusiast who would still be playing for a team with his friends and going to watch his beloved Millwall play.
“I know what it’s like to work on a building site and to try to find a trade, so I appreciate being able to play football for a living,” he says.
AIK’s fans will be hoping that Pavey’s drive to succeed will lead to a trophy this season.