Meet the 2017 international Swede of the year

Top Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage has been named 2017 Swede of the Year Abroad by Swedes Worldwide, a non-profit organization for Swedes living abroad.

Meet the 2017 international Swede of the year
Around 660,000 Swedes live abroad. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Sundhage, who led Sweden's national women's team when they grabbed an Olympic silver in Rio de Janeiro last year, was awarded the accolade thanks to her long and successful football career.

Congratulations, Pia Sundhage! Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

“Pia Sundhage has, through her great career as a football player and football coach, become one of Sweden's most beloved sportswomen. Her calm and down-to-earth manner has become the face of Swedish women's football, rolled into the hearts of Swedes and strengthened Sweden's image as a football nation,” read the jury's description.

“Pia is an important role model to many girls and youngsters with football dreams, in Sweden and in the world. She has inspired other women to perform at the highest level in very different environments,” it continued.

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Pia Sundhage. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Swedes Worldwide has honoured a Swede “who has done outstanding contributions to profile Sweden internationally in culture, business, science, sports or in the humanitarian field” every year since 1988.

Previous winners include Abba legends Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad and footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sundhage, who won two Olympic golds as coach of the US women's national team in 2008 and 2012, is a pathbreaker in football, growing up at a time when women on the pitch were unheard of.

When she was seven years old a coach let her play for the local children's team, as long as she called herself by the Swedish boy's name 'Pelle'.

“With solid integrity and a finely tuned moral compass, Pia Sundhage has contributed to a more gender equal society. Her long international career as a successful leader of some ot the world's best national team has turned her into a strong and successful Swedish brand. Not only has she put Swedish women's football on the map, but also Swedish women,” said Swedes Worldwide.