'I had no idea and started crying. I owe Iain McInnes everything': Ex-Portsmouth, Charlton and Norwich striker Mathias Svensson on his unlikely guardian angel

Mathias Svensson has dedicated his football career to former Pompey chairman Iain McInnes.

Mathias Svensson scored 12 goals in 51 appearances at Pompey before leaving in July 1998. Picture: Laurence Griffiths, Empics
Mathias Svensson scored 12 goals in 51 appearances at Pompey before leaving in July 1998. Picture: Laurence Griffiths, Empics

The hard-working striker earned three Sweden caps and played in the Premier League for Charlton and Norwich before retiring through a knee injury in March 2008.

Yet it was his move from Elfsborg to Pompey in December 1996 which Svensson credits as transforming his career.

The £75,000 transfer was funded by a local businessman and Pompey fanatic who had recently sold his electronic component and distribution business – McInnes.

Some 17 years later he would be a pivotal figure in the battle against the Blues’ liquidation which saw fan ownership seize control of the club in April 2013.

And Svenson, who went on to score 12 goals in 51 appearances before leaving Fratton Park in July 1998, thanks McInnes for his rise.

The former Swedish international told The News: ‘My transfer to Pompey was a bit strange, it took three weeks and there were all sorts of things going on.

‘At one point the deal was costing Pompey £200,000, with Elfsborg receiving £75,000 of that. The other £125,000 was meant to be put into a separate account.

Former Pompey chairman Iain McInnes was instrumental in Mathias Svensson's arrival at Fratton Park in December 2016. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘In the end, it came down to £75,000 – which Iain McInnes paid. He financed my whole transfer from Pompey, I owe him everything.

‘In 2015, during an interview with The News, they told me about Iain’s role. I had no idea and started crying.

‘This one guy who I have never met actually made my career, so it was a strong feeling when I found out about him.

‘I got his number and texted him my thanks. One day I’m going to come over to England and meet this guy, he has made my career, he made it possible for me to play football in a professional way.

Mathias Svensson would appear in the Premier League for both Charlton and Norwich after leaving Pompey. Picture: Rebecca Naden

‘With the pandemic happening and my company growing so much, I haven’t yet had the time, but I will definitely come over to meet Iain one day.’

Svensson still revels in Pompey memories which saw them finish seventh under Terry Fenwick in his maiden season in 1996-97.

He added: ‘I had 10-12 clubs who wanted to buy me, clubs from Italy, Spanish, Norwich and Holland.

‘But the way I played football was English, it was perfect for me to come to Pompey. That was where I wanted to play.

‘That was a massive thing for me and my career, it made me come into the professional world of football. I will be forever grateful to Iain McInnes.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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