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A Fantastic Experience

Got up for breakfast at 9.00am ready to leave for the £12million Jamkraft Stadium for 11.00am. Kick off was at 1pm so we left early to make sure everything was in check including no injuries and also to walk through some shape and set pieces.

We were playing on a top class 3-G surface – it’s supposed to be one of the best in the world so we also needed to get used to the playing surface. We were playing AIK Stockholm for the 3rd/4th play-off spot, we thought they were technically the best side in the tournament and also a very good passing side.

Final tournament game - Rotherham Utd v AIK Stockholm

The first half for us started slow and we conceded early as we were still getting used to the surface. After a bad start to the game we managed to pull it around stringing 25 passes together in one move and our confidence was growing.

We managed to equalise in the 37th minute with a quick free kick played by Lewis Owen to Grant Darley who came in off the wing, fainted his first shot past the AIK centre-half and drilled in a 20 yard left shot into the bottom corner. The score at half time was still 1-1 after we hit the post and had other chances. Our coach was happy with the result so far but we knew we had a hard second half in front of us.

Final tournament game - Rotherham Utd v AIK Stockholm

Second half was not the best we have played, the game seemed to slip away from us with some good football from AIK and some injuries resulting in only 11 fit players on our team. This meant we found ourselves 4-1 down with 20 minutes to go.

However, we didn’t give up. I managed to get a second goal with Oli Banks also hitting the bar straight after, but unfortunately for us it wasn’t quite enough to win us the game and secure a 3rd place finish.

Final tournament game - Rotherham Utd v AIK Stockholm

After watching the final between Barnsley and Hartlepool United we headed off back to the hotel to get ready for the presentation dinner. LFE presented awards for the Player of the Tournament and the Leading Goal Scorer which were both won by Barnsley – the winners of the tournament. Everyone who was involved with the tour was also thanked by LFE. The meal finished about 9.30pm with all the lads heading off to bed ready for an early leave first thing in the morning.

We are now (Friday 31st) at the airport after a 7 hour journey ready to return to England. The experience that all the boys have gained from this tour has been fantastic. We have learnt a different culture in another country and we have also learnt about a different style of football from the Swedish teams we have played. Overall I think that all the lads have enjoyed their stay in Sweden and it has been a very successful trip. Got to go now the plane is waiting!

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