Wednesday 10 April 2019, 01:42

Schelin looks ahead to a ‘new life’ following pregnancy

  • Sweden’s record scorer pregnant with first child

  • Former Rosengard and Lyon striker forced to retire in 2018 after ‘years of pain’

  • Says landscape changing in Sweden after record crowd for match against Germany

After an emotional farewell to Lyon in 2016 and a return to her native Sweden, Lotta Schelin was supposed to see out the remainder of her career doing what she did best – scoring goals and winning trophies.

But on 31 August last year, having hardly seen the field during the first half of 2018, Schelin announced her retirement, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.

“I had struggled with my head and neck for a number of years, but I think in June 2017 when I got the last hit, it was the last one I could take,” Schelin said.

“I was getting bad headaches and I knew I was going to be feeling sick after matches. I went to the EUROs in 2017, but I was not 100 per cent, I had been struggling with that for so long.”

Schelin was determined to keep going with the aid of medical help and would avoid drills in training that involved heading to ensure she was fit and healthy for matches. But she soon found that even that was too much, and it became too hard to be herself. It was after the EUROs that things got a little worse, with blurred vision accompanying the sickness.

“I saw the physio and it took me a little while to understand everything that was going on, and when I finally realised it, it hit me hard.

“It took me a year to understand that I was not going to be able to carry on. I just couldn’t see a possible way to continue, which helped me come to the decision to retire.”

Eight months on, and Schelin still requires rehab and medication, but she is in a better condition than she was towards the end of last year, especially with the news made public recently that she is pregnant with her first child.

“I always try to stay positive and find the good things, and starting a family is definitely one of those.

“I am looking forward to that and it feels amazing to be pregnant. I cannot wait for a new life with a child, it’s really exciting.”

Schelin played 185 times for her country and scored a record 88 goals, but she is probably one of the most modest players you could meet. She scored 225 goals for Lyon and won everything at club level, leaving a legacy that has no doubt inspired a lot of young girls.

Despite that modesty, the now 35-year-old is able to reflect on the impact she’s had on women’s football, not just in Sweden, but globally.

“I feel a lot of pride about the journey I made and what I was able to achieve, but when I look at myself as a role model, it’s hard to take in.

“I had the privilege to be a full-time professional and I am so happy about that. If that made a difference, then that makes me so happy, and I hope that I have done something for the young girls of the future.”

It’s that desire to make a difference that saw no hesitation from Schelin to join the FIFA Legends Squad programme and help promote the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Schelin is one of 23 past female and male players who are part of the Legends Squad, with the simple remit of building up what is going to be the biggest World Cup in history.

“I wanted to give something back and this was an opportunity to meet some of the fans and do something positive.

“I love doing these things and I really want to make a difference because I have been given so much during my career.”

Schelin was in attendance at the Friend’s Arena in Stockholm as Sweden played Germany in front of a record attendance of 25,882 spectators during the Swedish leg of the current Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour.

“I am so happy for young girls that the landscape is changing and that it’s changing all the time – we’ve worked really hard for this.

“For me, when I was a young girl, I didn’t even know if I could be a professional, so at least we can say they can now. So I am happy for these girls in Europe and across the world.”