Sven-Göran Eriksson was the master football coach who took England to quarter finals in the World Championships in 2002 and 2006 and the European Championships in 2004. At the time, I was a freelance writer, and I met him in Rome a few years earlier on assigment for Scanorama. Me and photographer Jens Assur followed him at home, at work, at play and Eriksson was in a perfect mood. So perfect that he, after his team Lazio had beat Salernitana 6-1, invited us to dinner atCelestina ai Parioli, a favorite trattoria. Much to our surprise his then girlfriend Nancy Dell´Olio also showed up, and I believe it was the first time the couple, a precious prey for every paparazzo, accepted a fully equipped photographer at their table. Jens didn’t miss the opportunity. And Dell´Olio was stunning.
A few years later, when Eriksson coached the English national football team and his numerous girlfriends and his alleged cheating on Dell´Olio was a never ending tabliod story, The Observer Sport Monthly´s then editor Jason Cowley called. He was one of Scanorama´s contributors and he remembered my story. Now he wanted to run a shortened version of my profile, calling it”My Dinner with Sven”: ”When Swedish writer Thomas Sjöberg went to Rome to interview Sven-Göran Eriksson, who was then manager of Lazio, they got on so well that Sven invited him on a night out with his new girlfriend, Nancy, and revealed a hidden side to his character: Sven the trencherman, ladies´ man, cigar smoker and whisky drinker”, The Observer wrote in the intro.