Having had his international profile raised somewhat, following a rumoured £4m move to anti-football innovators Stoke City, renowned around the world for boasting such “formers” as former England international Matthew Upson, former Javelin thrower Rory Delap and former Manchester United protege Danny Higginbotham, many eyes were truly fixated on Swedish international Martin Olsson, who, on joining The Potters, would become former footballer Martin Olsson.
With certain doubts resting in his mind, placed there by David Dunn, who, in between Venky Pies, had managed to tell him he looked like a dolphin and his twin brother was faster than him, Olsson momentarily forgot he was actually quite a good footballer and slipped into the mold of Stoke player before actually signing for them. This led to the poor lad’s opening five minutes of the game comprising wholly of looking to get on the end of a long throw-in whilst in attack and kicking the ball very hard and far in defence. Questions have been raised over whether this was an improvement on playing under Steve Kean.
However, any deterrence that may have been caused to the young left-back of Swedish-Kenyan descent wasn’t long-lasting and within ten minutes he had entered his flow and started to look like he was worth every penny of that rumoured £4,000,000.000. In the 15th minute of his team’s opening fixture against joint-hosts The Ukraine, Olsson made a tackle and offloaded the ball to Kim Kallstrom in a forward diagonal pass bearing right. This was the first of many passes that the 24-year old made, but was the only one of which MayCauseOffence counted. Extrapolating the data they have to their disposal – one pass every 15 minutes, with a success rate of 100% – MayCauseOffence can reveal Olsson made a total of six passes during the course of the game and completed every single one of them.*
For much of the next 20 minutes Olsson’s involvement fluctuated, with the player keen to ensure all 22 players were involved fairly. His obvious display of teamwork did not go unnoticed and his price was rising by the minute. Reminiscing over a childhood memory that may or may not have happened, Olsson was seen to pause poignantly on the halfway line and observe the hub of activity that surrounded him. This was mistaken by some as a Ukrainian player passing Olsson with ease; yet, perhaps still in the trance of a now-distant recollection, the Swede galloped back like a Kenyan gazelle, hunted the ball back with the clinical nature of a poacher and shared the ball with his closest teammate like a mother lion to her cub. This led to many correctly attributing a high work rate to the versatile left-back, who is so versatile he can even play slightly higher up the pitch in left midfield.
As half time approached, the Rovers defender made his way to the tunnel and whilst this may seem premature as the break was merely approaching and had not actually arrived it was really just great anticipation from the European Championships debutante. He left the field to a rapturous round of applause.** However, this may or may not have been solely for the future former footballer. This did not stop Olsson from acknowledging the crowd as he left the pitch, not only displaying immeasurable awareness – vital for any top level footballer – but also portrayed Olsson as the down to earth guy you’d one day name a stadium or a local square after if he went on to be a national hero, perhaps by scoring a goal or two.
With the half-time break over and the players reemerging onto the field of play it was hard to notice that Olsson had already walked back out a few minutes earlier to share jocular tales with a disheartened steward, who later revealed he was dejected because he was receiving a low wage for the hours he was committed to as a Euro 2012 match attendant***, but was now feeling more positive about life having heard one of Olsson’s most memorable quips about the time he mistook Steve Kean for Phil Mitchell. This magnificent act of selflessness was not missed, despite initially being missed.
Starting the second half with a smile on his face had an exponential effect on the rest of the Sweden team. On seeing the white glow of Olsson’s tremendous and heartwarming grin, still remaining from the feeling of well-doing he gained from making the day of a grumpy Ukrainian steward, one Swedish striker, who was birthed from a Croatian mother and fathered by a Bosnian father, was so enthused he jogged back to near the halfway line and played a neat one-two that instigated an attack. With the radiance given off from Olsson’s wide smile at the back of said striker, he surged through the Ukrainian midfield and finished off the attack he – through the power of Olsson – started. In doing so he put Sweden 1-0 up and Olsson was seen at the heart of the celebrations, making certain that every player was able to share the remarkable feeling of success.
Unfortunately, this would be the last thing Olsson would remember between now and full-time, because as the jubilation reached its peak the slender figure of the 5’10 defender received a blow to the head**** and, whilst he showed no somatic signs of distress or harm, the rest of the game became a hazy happening. Yet, due to his unassuming nature the injury went unnoticed and not being one to complain and frankly not being able to due to the state of complete confusion he was in, Olsson remained on the pitch until the final whistle.
Geoff Shreeves was on hand at full-time to tell Martin Olsson the news*****, however, due to prior commitments at a Kenyan orphanage, Olsson had already departed the stadium.
Man of the match – Martin Olsson
*This is perhaps not true.
** This is true.
*** This is merely my interpretation of Ukrainian, having once listened to Google Translate in said language.
**** Entirely fictional occurrence.
***** The game 2-1 to Ukraine (Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko, Shevchenko)