Arsenal Europa League opponents Ostersunds English boss Graham Potter: It’s ‘really cool’ to play one of Premier League’s best teams
PUBLISHED: 14:36 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:48 11 December 2017
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Arsenal have been drawn in the Europa League round of 32 against the team taking Sweden by storm – and their English manager is delighted.
Swedish minnnows Ostersunds FK have been pitted against the Premier League giants, with the first leg taking place at the 8,466 capacity Jämtkraft Arena on Thursday, February 16, 2018.
The club that plays in black and red and which was formed in 1996 through the merger of three clubs – Ope IF, IFK Östersund and Östersund/Torvalla FF – are led by the only English coach in the Europa League, Graham Potter.
Potter, 42, played for Southampton in their famous 6-3 victory over Manchester United at The Dell in 1994 and played for ten sides during his journeyman career which also took in Stoke and West Brom.
Speaking to the official Ostersunds website moments after the draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday lunchtime the former England U21 international who also has a Masters degree in leadership and emotional intelligence, couldn’t hide his delight.
A satisfied Potter said: “I think it’s really cool to go home to England and meet one of the best teams in the Premier League. Now we are truly underdogs,
“Amazing lottery. I wanted to have a really great team.”
Ostersunds stunning rise under Potter continued this year by winning their first major trophy the Svenska Cupen – or Swedish Cup – after beating IFK Norrköping 4–1 in the final.
The club which has played in the Swedish third division for 15 of its 21 years in existence has seen Potter lead them to three promotions in five years since taking over when they were languishing in the fourth division.
Their cup victory masterminded by Potter saw them qualify for this seasons Europa League, marking their first appearance in European competition.
On 13 July they beat Turkish giants Galatasaray 2-0 at the Jämtkraft Arena, knocking them out after a 1–1 draw in Istanbul.
Two goals by Saman Ghoddos in a win against PAOK on August 24 saw them qualify for the group stage as Sweden’s only representative in Europe this season – also making Potter the only British manager in the Europa League.
They continued to progress under Potter losing a single match during the campaign to finish second behind Athletic Bilbao and ahead of Hertha Berlin.
With support from the Professional Footballers’ Association, Potter graduated from the Open University in December 2005 with a Social Sciences degree.
He worked as a football development manager for the University of Hull and as assistant coach for the England Universities Squad. He also has Master’s in leadership and emotional intelligence.
In December 2010,Potter signed a three-year contract as Östersunds coach, who were then playing in the fourth tier of Swedish football – and the rest is history.
Potter’s squad includes former York City and Osset Town midfielder Jamie Hopcutt as well as former Thornaby and Spennymoor Town 23-year-old Curtis Edwards.
Former Hamilton Academicals boss Billy Reid is Potter’s number two and was voted Scottish manager of the year in 2008.
Supporters of the club have also petitioned the local authorities in a bid to build a statue of 42-year-old Potter.