Sven takes a Grip on England

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The Independent Football

Sven Goran Eriksson believes Tord Grip's influence on England's rejuvenation should not be overlooked. The Swedish coach bounces ideas off his assistant who he admits has been a large factor in his success in charge of England.

"Tord Grip has been very important," Eriksson said. "Mainly because he's Tord, but also because he's Swedish. We have a similar mentality and thoughts.

"When you move to a new country it's important to have someone you know with you, someone you can rely on through thick and thin – but also someone who will not just always agree with you."

England's progression to the World Cup finals was confirmed by the 2-2 draw against Greece two weeks ago, when David Beckham scored an injury-time free-kick equaliser that Eriksson calls "perhaps the happiest goal of my life".

He said: "We didn't think that we would go and win the group and already be taking part in the World Cup finals. So it was unexpected, and we never thought that we would go and beat Germany 5-1 away.

"We got to the World Cup and I've never done that before. Regarding the excitement and drama, it's hard to think of anything better."

He continued: "It's going to be great fun playing Sweden as it's something I've never done. Sweden have a very good team which they showed in the qualifiers. It is just a friendly but because we only have a few internationals before the World Cup all of them are important.

"However, if I had to choose, I'd rather lose to Sweden and win the first game at the World Cup."