Glenn Strömberg, Atalanta's lion from the northAtalanta is a very special football club. While they have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years, as of this writing, due to them qualifying to the Champions League on a regular basis, they are also known for being one of the few football clubs in Italy to constantly develop young talent, which is a rarity over there. And while they have gained new followers in recent times, there is a lot of history that people don't know about this club.
In that regard, the 80s were a unique time for Atalanta. They were in Serie A when it was widely regarded as the best league in the world, and they were facing off against the likes of Michel Platini at Juventus, Diego Armando Maradona at Napoli and Marco van Basten at AC Milan. And this is just mentioning a couple of names. There were a lot more world class players in Serie A at the time, and Atalanta were regularly playing against these super teams.
In that regard, the club from Bergamo also had their own "franchise player", if you want to call it that: the Swedish Glenn Strömberg.
Glenn Strömberg might not be the most popular name out there, but he is one of the most important players in Atalanta's history, and he was often viewed as the reason that the Bergamo club managed to avoid relegation and even qualifying to European competitions from time to time. But who was this gifted midfielder? Let's find out.
It all started in GothenburgBorn in Gothenburg, Sweden, in January 5th of 1960, Glenn Strömberg started to make a name for himself as an interesting talent in the youth teams of the biggest club in his native hometown, IFK Göteborg, before making his senior debut in 1979. His traits as a box-to-box midfielder, combining physical strength with a lot of technique, were already there to be seen.
This was a very fruitful time for IFK Göteborg: with Strömberg on the pitch they won three league titles, a national cup, and, above all else, an UEFA Cup in the 1981/82 edition where they beat Ernst Happel's Hamburg side. To this day, this is an accomplishment that hasn't been equaled by a Swedish team, and Strömberg was one of the most important players in that regard.
Signed for Benfica in 1983However, it was only a matter of time before the young Swedish midfielder would make a move abroad as his displays were starting to get interest from some important clubs. At the end, it was Portuguese giants Benfica who ended up signing him in January of 1983 as he was recommended by their current manager and former coach of Strömberg's at IFK Göteborg, Sven-Göran Eriksson.
Even though he only spent a season and a half in Portugal, Strömberg played regularly in the starting eleven and had positive contributions with the team, even going as far as scoring 10 goals in 32 matches for Benfica, which was a very decent output for a midfielder at the time. And he also won two league titles in the Portuguese the two seasons he played there, which was a very good achievement for a Swede playing in a league like that one.
Leaving Portugal for AtalantaIn his last couple of months at Benfica, Strömberg played a Euros qualifier against then reigning World Cup champions Italy in 1984. After a massive display where he scored three goals, Strömberg caught the eye of a couple of Italians teams, and it would be Atalanta who would get his signature. This is how a massive story for both parties begun.
Strömberg would play at Atalanta for a grand total of eight years from 1984 to 1992, and he ended up retiring there. He has mentioned in recent years that he had offers to join better teams during those seasons in Bergamo, but he said that he felt happy and content with that club and in that city-a testament to that is the fact that he still lives in Bergamo to this very day.
As an Atalanta player, the Swede built a reputation as a hard-working and elegant midfielder, to the point that he was one of the most consistently good players in the league for several seasons. The fact he never played for a bigger club in Italy is one of the biggest reasons he never got the credit he deserved in the game, but he was a major reason why Atalanta didn't get relegated in that time period and why they even made it to the old UEFA Cup, now known as the UEFA Europa League.
The image of Strömberg with his long blonde hair, his beard, Atalanta shirt and captain armband is one of the most iconic in the club's history and one that generates a lot of emotions for their supporters. And for a good reason!
Atalanta is a different club todayNowadays, Atalanta are a much more stable club and they are consistently qualifying to European competitions, thus making it more of a shame that people outside of big Atalanta supporters are not familiar with Glenn Strömberg and his contributions to the club. In fact, this was at a time where Swedish football, beyond the achievements of IFK Göteborg in the UEFA Cup in the early 80s (with our protagonist in the starting lineup), didn't have much going for them in the decade and Strömberg was one of his country's shining lights in that regard.
The word underrated is thrown a lot these days to mention and describe a lot of different types of players, but if there is one footballer who fits the bill like a glove, that is Glenn Strömberg. He proved time and time again that he was one of the best players in Italy in his position, and did it without the luxuries that the players at Juve, Inter Milan and AC Milan enjoyed during those years.
It is a testament of loyalty and dedication to a football club. That is why Glenn Strömberg was Atalanta's lion in the north.