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Per Tomas Brolin (born November 29, 1969 in Hudiksvallmarker) is a former Swedishmarker professional football player and manager who had a successful period with A.C. Parma during the early nineties winning the 1991-92 Coppa Italia, the 1992-93 Cup Winners' Cup, the 1993 UEFA Super Cup and the 1994-95 UEFA Cup. Brolin also played for the Swedish national team, finishing third in the 1994 World Cup and was also a beaten semi finalist at the 1992 European championship as well as having competed in the 1990 World Cup.

At the peak of his career, Brolin was regarded as one of the best football players in the world. In 1994, while playing in a qualification game for the 1996 European championship, Brolin broke his leg. This injury is regarded as having put an end to his career, even though he played for another four years, retiring at 28 years of age.

The golden boy of Swedish football

Per Tomas Brolin was born to Rune and Elsy Brolin in Hudiksvall. The family moved to NÀsviken and later resided at his grandfather's farmyard in Finnflo (also spelled Finflo), playing for a local boyclub called 'Finflo Flyers'. He then played for his homeclub NÀsvikens IK and quickly demonstrated his goal-scoring talents at an early age when he played his first match when he was just six years old at ForssÄtunet, and often played on teams with older players. In one match he scored 15 goals and was noticed by "Buster", a popular football comics magazine.

His first professional match was for NÀsvikens IK in 1984 at the age of 14 against Kilafors, and he went onto make 36 appearances for the fourth division club. GIF Sundsvall, in the north of Sweden spotted Brolin, offered him a contract in which he could continue his education while developing his career under former Sweden international Anders Grönhagen at the club, though he had to seek permission from his father Rune, a former footballer himself, to leave home. He agreed, and in 1986 Brolin enrolled at Fotbollsgymnasiet, the football academy in Sundsvall, and was subsequently signed by GIF Sundsvall, making his first team debut in 1987 against IF Elfsborg. While he was a part-time player, Brolin worked in a corner shop selling sweets and lottery tickets, and later worked in an office.

At the age of 20, and having played in the Allsvenskan for GIF Sundsvall for three years, trying to keep the unfancied "Giffarna" in the Swedish top division, Brolin wanted another challenge. That came after the team were relegated in 1989, Brolin, regarded as one of Sweden’s brightest prospects was not going to spend another season in the second division, and in the bidding war that insued between Sweden’s top clubs, Allsvenskan champions IFK Norrköping won out and in his first game for the club in a friendly against IFK Eskilstuna, Brolin netted a hat-trick and continued to hit the target, as he netted nine times in nine matches during the club’s pre-season.

However, it was his hat-trick in his league debut in a 6-0 victory over IFK Göteborg at Idrottsparken in Norrköping, that grabbed all the headlines and alerted Sweden's coach Olle Nordin to the talents of the new golden boy of Swedish football. Sweden had just qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1978, and were looking for a forward to lead their frontline, having only managed nine goals in six matches during the qualifying rounds. Eighteen days later, Brolin was lining up against Wales at the RĂ„sunda Stadion, and five minutes after Dean Saunders had given the visitors the lead, Brolin announced his arrival on the internationals stage with two goals in six minutes to give Sweden a 2-1 lead. Sweden won 4-2 on the night, and Brolin went onto score another two in the following match with Finland a month later, in which Sweden won 6-0. After only two matches and four goals, Olle Nordin had found the player that led his attack in the World Cup in Italy. Sweden failed to win any of their matches however after strong performances in the finals, scoring against Brazil, Brolin’s club were flooded with phone calls from club wanting to sign him and he eventually signed for Italian club AC Parma for ÂŁ1.2 million pounds (out of a possible 12 buyers), and also won his first Guldbollen as Sweden's footballer of the year.

A superstar in Serie A

The Italian club, AC Parma, bankrolled by dairy giants Parmalat, had just been promoted to Serie A, Italy’s top flight, for the first time in their history, and had spent some of the Parmalat millions breaking the Swedish transfer record on one of the best young talents at the World Cup. With three stranieri or foreigners permitted to each side under European rules at the time, the club also bought Brazil’s goalkeeper ClĂĄudio Taffarel, of Internacional Porto Alegre and Belgium Georges GrĂŒn central defender from RSC Anderlecht. All three had played at the 1990 World Cup for their respective nations, and impressed Parma’s coach Nevio Scala, and were incorporated into the side with the local talent in the Parma side, such as captain libero Lorenzo Minotti, left back Enzo Gambaro, centre half Luigi Apolloni, right sided midfielder Marco Osio and striker Alessandro Melli. Like every promoted club coming up from Serie B, Parma were expected by critics to struggle playing teams such as Juventus and AC Milan, every week. However, the team became one of the revelations of the 1990-1991 season, managing to qualify for Europe in their first season in Serie A.

With the loss of the club’s leading scorer in their promotion season, Fausto Pizzi, who had returned back from his loan spell to Inter Milan, the gialloblu were in need of goals, and the inexperienced coach Scala to the astonishment of Italian football decided to rely on two of the club’s youngest players for goals that kept Parma in Serie A. Brolin, and Melli were both 20 years old (Brolin was the oldest by 12 days), and the youngest strikeforce in Serie A. The pair complemented each other perfectly, Melli wearing the No.7 jersey was a box player, quick, nimble, good in the air and lethal from six yards, Brolin, wearing his favourite No.11, was not a striker as his record with IFK Norrköping had suggested. His best position, as Scala and national coach Tommy Svensson both agreed on, was just behind the strikers. The partnership delivered 20 goals, 13 from Melli and 7 from Brolin to see Parma finish in joint fifth place in their first season in Serie A, and most importantly, consolidate their top flight status and qualify for the Europe for the first time in their history.

In 1991-1992 season, Parma bought forward Massimo Agostini half owned by AC Milan after the sale of defender Enzo Gambaro to the Milanese club in a £3m deal, to add to their attack, however he was rotated along with Melli. Brolin was ever present in his second season with Parma, playing in all 34 Serie A matches, scoring 4 goals, as Parma finished in joint sixth place, however it was the club’s run in the Coppa Italia, that thrilled the fans at the Ennio Tardini, with Brolin scoring two goals, one in a 1-1 draw with Fiorentina, and the other in the 1-0 victory over Sampdoria in the semi-final. Parma beat Juventus 2-1 on aggregate to lift their first trophy in the club’s history.

In Euro 92, he was joint top-scorer with three others (Jan Eriksson and Kennet Andersson); his goal against Englandmarker did much to raise his profile.

In the 1992-1993 season with Parma in the European Cup Winners'Cup, the club splashed out on two foreign imports Colombian Faustino Asprilla from AtlĂ©tico Nacional and Argentine Sergio Berti of River Plate, and saw the return of crowd favourite Fausto Pizzi. The addition of Asprilla and Berti meant the positions of Parma's three foreigners Taffarel, GrĂŒn and Brolin were not guaranteed, as the club could only field three stranieri in a match. Scala wanted to field Brolin, Asprilla and GrĂŒn in the side, which meant Taffarel lost his place to Marco Ballotta. Sergio Berti failed to impress the coach and made only four appearances all season.

It was the signing of explosive Colombian forward Faustino Asprilla for ÂŁ3m by the Italian club in 1992 that changed the Swede's playing position in the team. Before the Colombian's arrival at Parma, Brolin had been playing up-front with fellow forward Alessandro Melli, however Parma's coach benched Brolin in favour of Asprilla for most of the season, and when he did play his No.11 was handed to Asprilla, with Brolin playing either in the No.8 or 9 jersey. However, a mysterious injury to the Colombian while on holiday back home in TuluĂĄ just before the European Cup Winners'Cup Final, meant he missed the match with Antwerp and gave Brolin a starting place alongside Melli. Brolin helped the club lift the European Cup Winners'Cup by defeating Belgium club 3-1 at Wembleymarker.

The following season, the club signed duo Gianfranco Zola and Massimo Crippa for a total of ÂŁ9m from cash strapped Napoli that put Brolin's place in the team in the balance. However, the coach Nevio Scala, having seen the benefit of playing Brolin in midfield during the previous season, decided to play Brolin in a deeper position than his first three seasons at the club. He was handed Melli's No.7 jersey, and played in a three man midfield with Gabriele Pin on the right and Massimo Crippa on the left, and Asprilla and Zola leading the attack. When the team was a goal down or in need of extra fire power up-front, striker Melli came on as a substitute in place of Pin and Zola dropped into midfield, a tactic that was deployed by the coach during the 1993/1994 season.

The club reached the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup once again having beaten Ajax and Benfica on the road to Cobenhagen, where they played Arsenal, but this time despite Brolin coming close to scoring in the first fifteen minutes even hitting the post, Parma lost 1-0, and a dejected Brolin walked off the pitch with a loser's medal.

Brolin went to the World Cup in the best shape of his career, at the age of 23, he had the world at his feet; Sweden, however despite having a talented group of players, was not predicted to go far at the World Cup in America, and after they scrapped a draw with Cameroon in their opening game, not much was expected of them, or Brolin. Though Brolin had other ideas, and in Sweden’s next game with Russia, he turned on a match-winning performance, playing behind Martin Dahlin and the towering Kennet Andersson, as Sweden won 3-1. His battling qualities were demonstrated in the opening goal in Sweden’s last group match against favourites Brazil, when he collected a long ball from defence, chesting the ball down and at the same time, shielding it from defender Márcio Santos, before beating him and playing a delightful cross-wing ball to Kennet Andersson, who chested the ball, and flicked it past Taffarel to make it 1-0. Sweden drew 1-1 with the Brazilians and reached the second round.

He scored 3 goals for Sweden in the 1994 World Cup, and Sweden surprised many by finishing third in the competition. Brolin's performances earned him a place in the competition's "World Cup All Star Team". In the quarter final against Romania, he scored one of his most famous goals; when Sweden were awarded a freekick, everyone expected Stefan Schwarz to shoot. Instead, he jumped over the ball and HĂ„kan Mild passed the ball past the wall to Brolin who managed to score. Brolin received his second Guldbollen award in 1994.

Career decline

There was speculation after the World Cup in 1994, that Barcelona were prepared to swap their unsettled star Hristo Stoichkov for Brolin, while Arsenal made an offer for the star but the player himself told the English club 'to come back' for him in 1996 after he had signed a contract extension with Parma, on the wishes of the club's coach Nevio Scala. Scala wanted to keep Brolin at the club as he believed with the Swede in midfield, having just been named as the world's fourth best player by the France Football magazine, Zola and Asprilla in attack, and with the addition of newly signed Dino Baggio from Juventus for ÂŁ6.5m, that he had a team that was capable of challenging the likes of AC Milan and Juventus for the Scudetto.

On November 16, 1994, at the RĂ„sunda Stadion in Stockholm, this dream of Scala's was halted. On the same stage where Brolin came to the attention of the Swedish fans, with his doubles against Wales and Finland in 1990, he broke his foot that all but ended his playing career. It came in the 70th minute of a European Championship qualifying game with Hungary after setting up team-mate Martin Dahlin to make it 2-0. Brolin had scored the first goal from a penalty in the first half. He was substituted two minutes later after being stretched off, however no one knew the extent of the injury. The team doctor Jan Ekstrand said that he had received a fracture to his foot, and was unable to play for three to four months, and added that the player was in good spirits considering the circumstances, as he prepared for surgery, and even joked about the latest horse racing results.

At the time of Brolin's injury, Parma were two points clear at the top of the Italian league, while Sweden were set to qualify for the 1996 European Championship as they sat top of their group however in Brolin's absence both Parma and Sweden floundered, and by the time Brolin returned on 23 April 1995 to a standing ovation by the Parma faithful as a 84 minute substitute for Zola in a league match against Inter Milan, Parma were eight points behind leaders and eventual champions Juventus, and Sweden were in third place behind Switzerland and Turkey, and looking like they would miss out on the 1996 European Championship,which they did.

With Gianfranco Zola missing, coach Scala gave Brolin his first start for Parma on May 7, 1995, a week after he had returned back playing for Sweden against Iceland, a game in which he scored a penalty but was unable to help his team to a much needed victory in their qualifying campaign. His first start for nearly six months came against Genoa, and Parma needed a victory to keep the pressure on runaway leaders Juventus at the top of the league. Brolin lasted 62 minutes before he was subbed for the young Stefano Fiore, as Parma drew 0-0, and slipped seven points behind in the title race. On May 21, Parma played Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpimarker however coach Scala was reluctant to field Brolin stilling trying to find his form and fitness in such an important match. Parma lost 4-0, and conceded defeat in the title race. Brolin made a further appearance as a substitute in the 3-0 victory over Fiorentina a week later, and was handed a start as coach Scala fielded a second string side, on the last day of the season against Napoli, in which Brolin was sent off for the first time in his career after only 23 minutes!

Parma signed Hristo Stoichkov for £6.5m as Brolin tried to get back to full fitness for the start of the 1995-1996 season, and despite some outstanding performances in the Parmalat Cup against the USA (2-1) and Boca Juniors (3-1) and a friendly against RSC Anderlecht (1-0) during the club’s pre-season, matches in which Brolin had scored in, coach Scala still felt the player lacked fitness, and would not be able to play in the central midfield role he had once vacated before his injury. Instead the Italian Under-21 midfielder Massimo Brambilla bought in during the summer from Reggiana took his place for the opening match of the season against Atalanta, where Stoichkov scored on his debut, but failed to inspire Parma to victory, as they drew 1-1.

Brolin made his first league appearnance during the 1995-1996 season, as a late substitute in a 2-1 home win against Inter on September 10, and four days later in a first round European Cup Winners’ Cup first leg against Albanian club KS Teuta DurrĂ«s in Tiranamarker, Brolin made his first start, and made another start in the return match on September 28. However after substitute appearances in league matches against Sampdoria (0-3) on September 17, Fiorentina (3-0) on September 17, and a 3-1 win over Padova on October 1, it was clear that Brolin was not going to get chance to play regularly in a bid to get back to his best form, and after five years at Parma, Brolin looked for a move away from the club in search of first team football.

Move to England

Brolin turned down moves to three Italian clubs, and in the end, Leeds United, became front runners for his signature, and on November 7, 1995, he had a medical at Elland Roadmarker and returned to Sweden, and then Italy to think over the move. Leeds managing director Bill Fotherby took a trip to Italy to negiotiate a fee for Brolin and after a seven hour meeting with the Parma officials, a fee of £4.5m was agreed on. However, Brolin told a Swedish newspaper on November 13, “The clubs are not yet in agreement and I have not fixed up a contract with Leeds United”, and added that if a deal fell through there were other clubs interested. However, in the end, a two and a half year contract was agreed, and on November 17, 1995 after a delay because of a snowstorm, the contract was signed in the presence of the player, managing director Bill Fotherby and manager Howard Wilkinson.

Wilkinson saw Brolin as the perfect foil for the club’s top scorer Tony Yeboah, and on the day of the signing, he said “He is a class player, and I believe he will prove to be an excellent buy for Leeds. I am sure he is going to be an excellent partner for Tony Yeboah”. This was also the view of the Ghanaian forward “I am sure Tomas and I are going to work well together. He is truly world class. He can weigh in with goals of his own, and link up with the other players in the side. We are going to be very difficult to defend against”.

Brolin believed he needed matches to get back to his best and said “Give me a month to get my full fitness back, and to adapt to playing in England, and then I will show people what I can really do. I believe I can help Leeds win the Championship again. I have had great support from the fans and gradually regained my fitness. I am really excited about the future at Elland Road.”

Having watched the 1-0 win over Chelsea F.C. a day after signing for the club, on November 25, 1995 at St James’ Park against Newcastle, Brolin came on in the 82 minute for Mark Ford to make his Premier League debut for Leeds Utd. They lost 2-1. Four days later Brolin made his first start for the club as he contributed in the 2-1 win over Blackburn Roversmarker in the Coca Cola Cup, and was a starter in a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City on December 2, and a 1-1 draw with Wimbledon F.C. on December 9.

Brolin scored his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday on December 16, in which they lost 6-2! The goal was one of the most bizarre goals he had ever scored in his career, it came in the 28 minute as Leeds trailed 3-0, when Gary Kelly crossed from the right onto the head of Brolin, he managed to head the ball, and in a lapse in concentration in the Wednesday defence, they stood still, giving Brolin the time to challenge keeper Kevin Pressman for the ball. The ball hit the keeper and Brolin and was going goalwards until Wednesday defender Steve Nicol cleared it off the line, only to hit Brolin on the head as he lay on the ground and go into the net, however Brolin still celebrated in his usual style.

It was Leeds' heaviest defeat in seven years under Howard Wilkinson, and at the end of the match the manager said that they were at a crossroads which the team continued with no certain direction or else, to get back to doing the sort of things that win football matches, as a matter of habit, and remarked of the match "We attacked like a team who could have scored six or seven, but defended like a team who could concede six."

In the next match came Brolin’s best performance for the club on Christmas Eve against Manchester United at a packed Elland Roadmarker. He outshone United’s Roy Keane, a young David Beckham in midfield, and even an old Leeds favourite Eric Cantona. Brolin was the best attacking influence on the pitch, playing a part in all three of Leeds’ goals, as they won 3-1 on the day. The winner came after Brolin, on the right dummied to shoot, and instead crossed the ball for Brian Deane to head into the corner of the net. "I bought him to fulfil a certain function and he got nearer today," Wilkinson said of Brolin after the match.

Brolin continued to be a regular starter playing in a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on December 27, in which he scored his second goal for the club, and a 2-0 defeat to Everton, three days later. On January 1, 1996 played against Blackburnmarker, however seven days later Brolin was dropped for the third round FA Cup tie with Derby County after manager Wilkinson said that the player was unsuited to the "heated atmosphere" of a cup-tie. Leeds won 4-2, and Brolin returned three days later on January 10, for fifth round tie match in Coca Cola Cup against Reading F.C., in which Leeds won 2-1, and then on January 13, Brolin hit two goals as 10 man Leeds United, without Yeboah and Deane, beat West Ham United 2-0 at Elland Road, and on Match of the Day that night, pundit Alan Hansen remarked that “clever” Brolin was the reason for the victory, as he scored from the same position that he had crossed for Deane to score the winner against Manchester United, and knowing that there was no target man in the box, he scored himself. The two goals put Brolin’s goal return at four in eight Premiership matches.

Then came a 5-0 defeat to Liverpool on January 20, and after the match Brolin and Wilkinson clashed over the player's defensive abilities, saying he was not pulling his weight, however Brolin said that he was bought as a creative attacking player, and was not prepared to drop deep in midfield. Brolin was at odds with manager Wilkinson having been told to play in a defensive role wide on the right in the 5-0 hammering at Anfieldmarker. He played in the 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest on January 31, but was dropped for the league match against Aston Villa despite Wilkinson missing nine first team players through suspensions, injuries and international duty.

Leeds still lost 3-0 to Villa, and Brolin missed the following matches against Birmingham City (2-1) in the Coca Cola Cup semi-finals, a fourth round and fifth FA Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers (1-0) and Port Vale F.C., after he picked up an injury during training.

Brolin who had claimed that was another season before he was at his best, returned to the team, as Leeds beat Birmingham City 3-0 on February 25, in the second leg of the Coca Cola Cup semi-finals to play Aston Villa at Wembleymarker, and then came on in the second half of the fifth round of the FA Cup to rescue the club, as Leeds trailed 1-0 to lowly Port Vale F.C., and looked like they were going out, however a lovely piece of skill from Brolin on the left wing, gave him the space to escape the close attentions of the Vale defence and cross for Gary McAllister to score with a header after 63 minutes to make it 1-1. McAllister added a second from a free kick two minutes from time, to put Leeds through.

Brolin was back in the side, and played against Bolton (0-1) on March 2, QPR (2-1) on March 6, the FA Cup sixth round match with Liverpool F.C. (0-0) on March 10, against Blackburn Roversmarker (0-1) on March 13, and Everton F.C. (2-2) on March 17 until he was dropped for the sixth round replay against Liverpool, which Leeds lost 3-0.

Then came the Coca Cola Cup Final on March 24 at Wembleymarker against Aston Villa, and Brolin was again on the bench, and after a chorus of “Why is Brolin on the bench?" rang around Wembley, the Swede came on after 65 minutes, and trotted onto the pitch with applause from the Leeds fans, however they were 2-0 down, and conceded another in the last minute, as they lost 3-0.

He was dropped for the next match against Middlesbrough, which Leeds lost 1-0 and on April 1, 1996 Brolin had to apologise to Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson, after an April Fool's Day prank backfired, after he told Swedish television he was going to play out the season on loan to former club IFK Norrköping but returned on April 3, in the 1-0 victory over Southampton F.C., and played in the following matches against Arsenal (1-2) on April 6, Nottingham Forest (1-3) on April 9, and played his last match of the season at Stamford Bridgemarker on April 14 setting up McAllister’s goal in the 4-1 defeat. He reiterated his intention of leaving Leeds after the Chelsea defeat and was dropped for the following match against Manchester United.

On April 16, 1996, Brolin was then dropped by Swedish coach Tommy Svensson for a friendly against Northern Ireland in Belfast, and was quoted "Brolin is not at 100 percent at the moment and it is difficult to say when he will be." Brolin told Swedish news agency TT that it was the best for him, and the national side "Right now I need to recover in order to get to the capacity needed to add something to the national team."

On May 1, it was announced by the club that Brolin had returned home to Sweden undergo surgery to remove scar tissue from his troublesome ankle, and was not fit for Leeds’ last two league matches. However, his future at Leeds was indoubt.

Loan spells at FC ZĂŒrich and Parma

In the summer of 1996, Brolin went searching for a club and was granted three extra days by Wilkinson to find a new club, however interest from Verona, Bari, Fiorentina and a serious bid by Sampdoria turned to nothing, while Spanish clubs Real Betis, Espanyol, and Real Sociedad were also reportedly interested in signing the player. On 19 August 1996, Leeds Utd announced that Brolin was on the transfer market and were prepared to sell him for nearly 2m less than the 4.5m paid for him. Leeds manager Wikinson had fined Brolin a week’s wages around ÂŁ12,000 for not turning up to pre-season training and announced he was seeking guidance from the Professional Footballers' Association on the legality of withholding Brolin's wages, and told the press that he would rather have any player in my team than him. Leeds stopped his wages when he refused to show up for pre-season training and reportedly saved pounds ÂŁ72,000 by the time Brolin had joined FC ZĂŒrich on loan, where he received the minimum wage of ÂŁ800-a-week for a player in the Swiss League. When asked about Wilkinson's sacking 48 hours after a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United on September 9, Brolin's reply was "I'm not surprised he's gone."

Brolin joined the Swiss club on August 20, 1996 and played three matches for FC ZĂŒrich in the Nationalliga A, the first against Young Boys of Berne (2-1) on September 4, and against Baselmarker (1-1) on September 7, and against FC Aarau (1-2) on September 18, and played his last match on September 21 in a Swiss Cup match against lowly Uzwil, in which FC ZĂŒrich won with a 10-0 scoreline. Brolin wanted to stay at the club until their mid-season winter break in December to get back into full fitness but Leeds under new coach George Graham wanted him back at Elland Road and refused to allow him to play for the club against FC St.Gallen on October 9, after his loan spell ended on September 30. George Graham was quoted as saying "We have heard nothing from Tomas Brolin. We have not even got a telephone number for him. All our correspondence with him has been done through his agent, Lars Peterson." However Brolin stayed away and on October 14, he threatened to retire than to play for Leeds again, while in Bangkok he said "I am not going to change my mind and I am not going back."

Leeds Utd then gave Brolin an ultimatium to return to the club on Thursday, 6 November or face legal action, and then a proposed loan move to Sampdoria collapsed on November 13 after a medical after a metal staple in his foot scuppered a move back to Italy, with a view to a permanent ÂŁ2 million move to the club despite all of doctors at his previous clubs Parma, Leeds and FC ZĂŒrich "It's going to be tough, word gets around, I met Sampdoria in Lyon and negotiated. The only thing remaining was a doctor's certificate and they sent me to a doctor for an examination. It was a purely routine thing and the thing I was least concerned about. And then the doctor said the staple had to be taken out before he would recommend me for Sampdoria. He thought the staple would give me problems in training and games. I was in shock when I left the doctor's. I can hardly believe it would end up like this. I don't have much hope that Sampdoria will change their minds," he added, saying it would take six to eight weeks after an operation before he could play.

Leeds urged Brolin, to return to Yorkshire and have tests on his damaged ankle to clarify the extent of the injury, fearing Brolin would be forced to retire, and wanted him to seek a second opinion from a leading orthopaedic surgeon. The club's director and solicitor, Peter McCormick, on November 19 said: "The player has now appointed a Fifa-registered agent in London. I have sent a lengthy communication to him requesting that Brolin returns to this country to be examined by a leading orthopaedic surgeon. Once that examination has been carried out and the results are known, Leeds will be in a position to consider the various legal options before taking the next step."

Then on December 24, Brolin paid ÂŁ500,000 of his own money to fund his loan move back to Parma until the end of the season. Brolin trained with the club, however much had changed and the Swede was no longer the coach's number one choice, the new coach was Carlo Ancelotti, with his rigid 4-4-2 formation that had ousted Zola from the club. Brolin returned to first team action on February 23, 1997 to a standing ovation as a second half sub in a 2-0 win over Lazio, and continued to make substitute appearances against Cagliari (3-2) on March 3, Perugia (2-1) on March 9, Inter Milan (1-0) on March 16, and Fiorentina (0-1) on March 23.

He played in an exhibition match at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc, in Barcelona on April 26 for the International Association of Professional Footballers (AIFP), in which he was a founding member. Brolin played against Udinese (0-2) on 28 April as a sub, and with Parma having several injuries and suspensions, Ancellotti handed Brolin his first and only start in his second spell at the Italian club on May 4 in a 2-1 win over Atalanata, and made another appearance in the 3-0 win over Vicenza on May 11. Brolin even played a part in Parma’s title run-in with Juventus, making substitute appearances against A.C. Milan (1-1) on May 15, and against Juventus (1-1) on May 25, coming on after Crespo limped off with a hamstring injury. His last appearance came on the last game of the season, on June 1, in a 2-1 win over Verona, as Parma finished in their best ever position, in second place. By the end of the season, it was clear that Parma were not interested in keeping the player and had only accepted to sign him on loan to keep him fit after so many years of loyal service to the Parma club.

End of Elland Road Nightmare, and offer from Palace

On June 16, 1997 his loan deal with Parma expired and under the terms of the agreement, once it expired the player was obligated to return to Elland Roadmarker within 72 hours, and the player after speaking to his agent John Smith returned back to the club, however he was axed by coach George Graham along with four other star players Ian Rush, Carlton Palmer, Tony Dorigo and Brian Deane for the club’s pre-season tour of Sweden, as they did not figure in the coach’s future plans and Brolin was stuck playing in the reserves. French champions, Monaco were reportedly interested in signing Brolin by royal request, after Prince Albert, an admirer of the player, suggested that the club sign him in a £2m move, however it was all rumours. On August 29, a £1 million loan move to Real Zaragoza fell through over wrangles over personal details, and in the end he missed the Spanish transfer deadline, and then was fined by the Leeds club for being absent for training for three days which he disputed saying that it came about after "a breakdown in communications." Brolin travelled to Edinburghmarker on September 15 to have a look at the city and Hearts and to have to talk to manager Jim Jefferies about a loan move to Hearts, however the deal fell through according to Brolin’s agent as the club could not match a long-term fee but the Hearts chief Chris Robinson pulled the plug on the deal due to the player’s fitness. After the two failed loan deals, Brolin continued to train and play in the reserves. Then after missing training and a reserve match against Liverpool F.C., to celebrate his father's 50th birthday on October 6, as well as publicly attacking George Graham in an article in a Sunday tabloid, the club fined him £90,000. The player threatened to take the club to a Premiership tribunal however on October 28, 1997 after a meeting with club officials, Tomas Brolin and his representatives, his contract with the club was terminated, with the player reportedly walking off around £140,000, helping Leeds save up to £700,000 in wages on the remainder of his contract. Although he recovered from the injury, he never seemed to regain his pre-injury level of fitness, and had arrived in England at the end of 1995 with an obvious weight problem, earning him the nickname "Tubby" Tomas Brolin and made only 19 Premiership appearances for Leeds, scoring 4 goals over the next two seasons.

On November 16, 1997 Steve Coppell the manager of struggling Crystal Palace offered Brolin a two week trial, and a return to English football. A Palace spokesman said. "He wants to see what the player's attitude is like and a permanent deal is not out of the question." Palace had been playing a friendly in Sweden, and Coppell was hoping to finalise the two week trial while he was there, with Brolin training with Hammarbymarker in Stockholmmarker. On December 19, Coppell was quoted "He's free at the moment and I've just said if he wants to come and train with us and make himself available then fine. We are in contact with him through intermediaries. I think realistically he is only going to commit himself until the end of the season and we probably only have a need until the end of the season. But at least we give him an opportunity to re-establish himself. I think he is only 28 but he has got a lot to do. He's been out of the game for close to three months so he's got to look for the best opportunity he can to show that he's a top quality player. It's not a gamble because we wouldn't be paying anything for him. We're providing him with a short-term opportunity. We don't open our doors for any Tom, Dick or Harry. He has the potential but he's got to prove it. He hasn't done it for a long time."

The trial began on January 5, 1998 and Brolin said "I am here and I am training and I am going to show my fitness and that I am not a forgotten football player. "I needed to clear out my mind and it was time to think about my situation. Now I will give it a go here and see what happens after these two weeks. "They are going to try to stay in the Premiership and they are going to battle until the last day. I think they are going to make it - I saw them at Leeds and they won 2-0. They are a very good team." With a player shortage, Brolin was asked by Coppell as a favour to play for the club in a league match, he agreed and Brolin was registered as a player for the club and allocated the No.12 jersey. "I only started training five days ago, so when the manager Steve Coppell asked me if I would play I thought it was a joke, but he was serious and because of the terrible problems with injuries I said yes. I want to get back into football and playing with no payment shows how much that is true". He played in the home league match against Everton F.C. on January 10, 1998 and was the team’s liveliest player even netting in the 72 minute only to see the referee rule it out for offside. The club lost 3-1 but Brolin, whose trial ended on January 16, was handed a contract until the end of the season.

In his next game on January 17, he returned to Yorkshiremarker to play Barnsley F.C. and was at fault for the only goal of the game, after he lost possession to Darren Sheridan, however he lso saw an equaliser disallowed for handball after earlier heading against the crossbar from seven yards. Brolin admitted that he was still some way away from being fully fit despite again playing for the first team, and was only going straight into the first team because of a number of injuries at the club, but was on the right path to getting back to something near full fitness. " It is very important to be involved again. If I wasn't perhaps I would have thought about quitting football. I really feel at home now at Crystal Palace and I hope we can stay in the Premiership I need another three or four weeks to regain peak fitness. I have regained my appetite for the game." After the match his manager said "He cost us a goal but you cannot escape the fact that he is a good player. "His physical condition isn't good at the moment and for the next few weeks he will find it hard to get back into the routine of full time training again. But he is a quality player. Two years ago he cost ÂŁ4million or ÂŁ5million and we got him for nought. So I'm not complaining."

In only his third game for the club, Brolin came up against his old club Leeds United on January 31. Brolin was still overweight, but managed to get a starting place in the team, he had shown his loyalty to the club adding that he may stay for more than a season “Whatever happens this season, Palace will have first shout on me in the summer. I will stay if they want me because they have let me back into football. I am totally committed to Palace and want to help them stay in the Premier League”. On the eve of the match he stated "I like the atmosphere at this club. At Leeds I was not treated like a human being and I could not wait to get away." However after only five minutes against his former employers he had to come off after a collision with Bruno Ribeiro, which left him dazed and needing stitches to a head wound. And while he was off the field having treatment, Leeds scored, and as Brolin returned to the field six minutes later, they scored again to make it 2-0. After the ball was kicked at Brolin’s head the bandage come off his head, but the Swede battled through. In the second half, Brolin dropped deeper and deeper in a desperate attempt to make an impact on the game, his touch and vision still obvious but his match fitness clearly not yet back after a lengthy lay off from the game.

Brolin went onto play twelve more times for Palace, mostly as a striker due to the London clubs shortage of players up-front but failed to help them avoid relegation. On March 13, 1998, after a 6-2 defeat to Chelsea, the London club under the new ownership of Mark Goldberg decided Steve Coppell would step down as manager and take up a job in the club's development, with star player Attilio Lombardo taking over as player-manager. However, despite it being widely reported that Brolin was to be his assistant coach, Palace chairman Goldberg insisted that the fluent Italian and English speaking Brolin was merely Lombardo’s interpreter to ‘help with interpreting in training and match situations’.

Brolin’s last competitive game came in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United on April 27, 1998 , and was subtituted for Jamie Fullerton after 68 minutes. Brolin was unable to recapture his form or fitness failing to score in 15 appearances for the Eagles and did not figure in the last three games of the season when relegation was confirmed. He later was released by the London club on May 14, 1998, and returned back to Sweden to think over his future.

On August 12, 1998, the player announced his retirement from the game and made his last appearance on August 29, 1998 in the last 15 minutes for Hudiksvalls A.B.K. against Kiruna FF as a goalkeeper!

In 2007 he was voted in at Number2 in The Times poll of the "50 Worst footballers (to grace the Premiership)."

After retirement

After retiring from football, Tomas Brolin settled to become a businessman and returned to his homeland where he owns an Italian-Swedish restaurant called "Undici" ( , the number he wore while playing for A.C. Parma). He also invested money in real estate and - to some public amusement - in a firm selling a new type of mouthpiece for vacuum cleaners. He also appeared in a video by Dr. Alban which featured other famous Swedishmarker sportsmen, including Björn Borg. Brolin is seen at the start of the video in the back of a limo and later lying in a hot tub surrounded by 'stereotypically' blonde Swedish ladies.

In 2001, a long time girlfriend, Susan Hardenborg, gave birth to Brolin's first child, a boy, named Sebastian. The couple had split before the birth of the child, but remain on good terms.

Brolin has been an active World Series Poker player, since 2006. Playing in the 2007 World Series of Poker and the 2006 Football & Poker Legends Cup organized by PartyPoker.commarker. He has also competed regularly in the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour and cashed twice - once in the Season 4 Prague event where he came 23rd and again in the EPT Grand Final later that season in Monte Carlo where he came 38th out of a 842-strong field.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. April 25, 1990 RĂ„sundamarker, Stockholmmarker 1-0 4-2 Friendly
2. April 25, 1990 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 2-0 4-2 Friendly
3. May 27, 1990 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 3-0 6-0 Friendly
4. May 27, 1990 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 4-0 6-0 Friendly
5. June 10, 1990 Stadio delle Alpimarker, Turinmarker, 1-2 1-2 1990 FIFA World Cup
6. June 5, 1991 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-0 2-2 Friendly
7. June, 1991 Ullevimarker, Gothenburgmarker 1-0 2-3 Scania 100 Semi-finals
8. June, 1991 Ullevi, Gothenburg 2-2 2-3 Scania 100 Semi-finals
9. June, 1991 Idrottsparkenmarker, Norrköpingmarker 4-0 4-0 Scania 100 3rd place
10. June 14, 1992 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-0 1-0 UEFA Euro 1992
11. June 17, 1992 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 2-1 2-1 UEFA Euro 1992
12. June 17, 1992 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-2 2-3 UEFA Euro 1992 Semi-finals
13. June 2, 1993 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-0 5-0 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification
14. June 2, 1993 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 2-0 5-0 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification
15. June 2, 1993 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 4-0 5-0 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification
16. April 20, 1994 Racecourse Groundmarker, Wrexhammarker 0-2 0-2 Friendly
17. June 5, 1994 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-0 2-0 Friendly
18. June 5, 1994 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 2-0 2-0 Friendly
19. June 24, 1994 Pontiac Silverdomemarker, Pontiac 1-1 3-1 1994 FIFA World Cup
20. July 10, 1994 Stanford Stadiummarker, Palo Altomarker 1-0 2-2 1994 FIFA World Cup Quarter-finals
21. July 16, 1994 Rose Bowlmarker, Pasadenamarker 1-0 4-0 1994 FIFA World Cup 3rd place
22. August 17, 1994 Eyravallen, Örebromarker 1-0 4-2 Friendly
23. August 17, 1994 Eyravallen, Örebro 2-0 4-2 Friendly
24. November 16, 1994 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-0 2-0 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying
25. June 1, 1995 RĂ„sunda, Stockholm 1-1 1-1 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying
26. August 16, 1995 Idrottsparken, Norrköping 1-0 1-0 Friendly


Career honours

Club honours

IFK Norrköping

A.C. Parma

Leeds United A.F.C.

International honours



Individual honours



References

  1. 1994 FIFA World Player of the Year



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