Sven discovers the British press is a whole new ball game

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The Independent Football

It is the opportunity of a lifetime, Sven Goran Eriksson keeps repeating like a mantra, as the fuss over his appointment as the England football team's first-ever foreign coach shows no signs of abating.

It is the opportunity of a lifetime, Sven Goran Eriksson keeps repeating like a mantra, as the fuss over his appointment as the England football team's first-ever foreign coach shows no signs of abating.

The phlegmatic, bespectacled Swede, an honorary Latin after his long stints in Portugal and Italy, has readily declared he is quite prepared to give up his sunshine quota. He earnestly asserts he is unperturbed by the prospect of a sharp salary cut in return for the honour of managing the nation that gave football to the world. But he is already starting to have his doubts about the British press.

Indeed, as he ruefully admitted yesterday, in an interview with the Italian sports daily, Corriere dello Sport, the Trivial Pursuit-style grilling he faced at Highbury earlier this week is likely to pale into insignificance before long.

"Journalists have already been to my mother's house in Sweden, to see my son in America, to my ex-wife in Florence, my brother in Portugal and they've been looking for my ex-in-laws who knows where," he said, still blissfully unaware they had hunted down his high school maths teacher as well. The Daily Star has already run a scoop on Sven's "football-mad mother" Ulla.

But the biggest prize is Eriksson's attractive 40-something girlfriend, Nancy Dall'Olio, regarded as something of a party girl. When the Italian press dipped too deeply into Eriksson's private life - suggesting the couple had split - Mr Nice Guy turned nasty. For nearly two years, the Rome daily, Il Messaggero, has not been granted an interview.

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