Sven's complicated private life is played out on Swedish stage

As the audience settled in at the Royal Court Theatre in Stockholm last night they were looking forward to the premiere of a play billed as a "relationship comedy".

As the audience settled in at the Royal Court Theatre in Stockholm last night they were looking forward to the premiere of a play billed as a "relationship comedy".

To Sven Goran Eriksson, the Swedish coach of England's football team whose knack of making the headlines for non-sporting reasons inspired the production, it would have been about as funny as losing to Liechtenstein.

Written by an English playwright, Nick Grosso, the production, entitled A Play in English, Swedish and Italian, is a barely disguised minimalist interpretation, over 10 scenes, of football and sex. Britain's most famous Swede is at the centre of the action.

The idea for the Anglo-Swedish venture was devised during a workshop in London when producers were searching for a theme and characters resonant in both countries. To avoid legal pitfalls the producers have given generic names to the seven characters, three Swedes and four Britons, but their denials that this is not about Eriksson's years in Britain are distinctly tongue in cheek.

Apart from "Coach", there is "Princess", an Italian bearing a close resemblance to Nancy Dell'Olio, "Weathergirl", whose CV is not dissimilar to that of Ulrika Jonsson, from the Football Association "Boss" and his "Secretary, and "Hack", whose published interview with the coach prompts a move to England.

The plot will be familiar to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the England coach's life since arriving from Italy. After taking the job at the FA, Coach's relationship with his partner, Princess, is plunged into crisis when Weathergirl arrives.

"Svengate", when Eriksson and the FA boss Mark Palios vied for the affections of a secretary, Faria Alam, is at the centre of the plot. By the end, the central character survives where others have fallen, and has a lucrative contract for the World Cup. "The play is about relationships but it's also about celebrity; how we think we know someone even though we are only taking things from what's been written in the papers," said Ulf Friberg, 42, who plays Coach.

Cecilia Johannson, a spokeswoman for the theatre, said: "It's not a biography. It's not meant for football fans - there's no football scenes on stage - it's a comedy about relationships."

Eriksson declined an invitation but was expected to be represented by his agent. Co-produced in Stockholm and London, the show will run for 15 performances and may move to London.

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