Meet Lucas Bergvall, Tottenham's exciting new signing with 'star quality' Ange Postecoglou loves

Lucas Bergvall of Djurgardens IF during the Svenska Cupen Group 4 match with IFK Goteborg
Lucas Bergvall of Djurgardens IF during the Svenska Cupen Group 4 match with IFK Goteborg -Credit:(Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

There's a star quality about Lucas Bergvall. He doesn't seek it, but he's got no chance of escaping it because of not only his remarkable ability with a football but also the fact that quite frankly he looks like the poster boy of the sport many in Sweden expect him to become.

The teenager emerges from the changing room inside Brommapojkarna's Grimsta IP Stadium after a match-turning and head-turning display for Djurgarden against the club that raised him as a child. Technically he's only just emerged from childhood, signing that five-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur on the day he reached 18.

After first signing autographs and posing for photos with a group of excited young fans who have been waiting patiently for him at the club reception, Bergvall flashes a big grin at the prospect of an interview in English, having already spoken to the scrum of local journalists after the game.

"I'm very happy to do this. I need to practice my English," he tells modestly with a wide smile. His English, needless to say, is absolutely perfect.

The first thing you notice about Bergvall in the flesh is that shock of bright blond hair. Some have compared him to David Beckham in terms of his delivery with the ball but also the boyband looks that are going to gain a lot of admirers beyond the Premier League stage.

The next thing you notice about the teenager is how big he is for his age. He's tall and broad and physically can handle himself against the bigger, older players in Sweden's Allsvenskan league, some of whom want to leave their mark on a young star who is poised to live the dream they always had.

'What makes him so special?' they no doubt think before launching into a rough challenge on the youngster. The answer usually arrives quickly with a moment of magic.

In the 5-0 victory at Brommapojkarna, set in a western suburb of Stockholm, Bergvall produced a string of star moments. One, a fabulous dribble, one-two and impudent backheel across the penalty area, led to Djurgarden's second goal for Deniz Hummet and then a pinpoint, clever through ball brought Hummet's next on his way to a hat-trick.

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"Maybe they try to tackle me a little bit more now, but it's not that much of a problem," admits Bergvall. "It's not like they're doing too much and it's not like it's going to be less in the Premier League. It's going to be much more. It's going to be really tough. It's the best league in the world so it's probably good for me!"

There's a maturity about Bergvall on and off the pitch which is striking. You're only reminded that he's 18 when that excitement about what's to come crosses his Scandinavian features and his face truly lights up.

One such moment comes when he recollects getting a welcome text from Tottenham captain Son Heung-min after he put pen to paper on the £8.5million deal that will take him from Djurgarden to north London this summer.

"It's crazy. I'm from Sweden! He's one of the best players in the Premier League and a real legend," he grins. "He texted me after I signed. It was really kind of him because he was at the Asian Cup and I think it was really something for him to do that when he was so busy. He's a really nice, kind guy for writing to me and making me feel comfortable."

Those around Bergvall admit that in the past year he has not only physically matured but has also taken to the other aspects of football life, like his media duties. "He didn't used to like interviews," remarked one Djurgarden official while Bergvall was holding court with ease with the group of Swedish journalists, all of them laughing and enraptured.

It is all part of the journey for the teenager who came through Brommapojkarna's famed academy set-up. The club out in the suburbs is not one of the country or even the capital's big clubs - they have only been in the Swedish top flight for eight of the past 20 years or so.

For context, in Thursday night's home match against Djurgarden, the visitors provided 4,000 fans in making up the 4,500 sell-out crowd.

However, Brommapojkarna's youth set-up is one of the best in Europe and players from across the country flock to join the thousands enrolled in it, making it one of, if not the, biggest academy on the continent with their teams regularly beating the giants of the game in competitions across the age groups.

The academy has, among a long list of international stars, produced Spurs' own Dejan Kulusevski, the former Arsenal and Everton midfielder Anders Limpar as well as Sporting CP striker Viktor Gyokeres, who is currently catching the eye of clubs across Europe. Amanda Nilden, on loan at Tottenham Hotspur Women from Juventus, also came through Brommapojkarna.

All eyes now are on Bergvall, despite his departure to Djurgarden last year. Brommapojkarna's head of youth and recruiting Tommy Soderstrom knows a thing or two about finding talent, having worked for years as a scout for Manchester United after being asked personally by Sir Alex Ferguson before recently starting a similar role for Ajax.

"Anders Limpar is the best player we've produced. The highest level in Europe is very difficult. Dejan Kulusevski is a very good player, but Lucas Bergvall is much better than Limpar and Kulusevski were at that age. They are very good but I think Lucas in the future can be very, very good," he said.

"He is a hard-working player but a very good technician. When we were in the youth tournaments against clubs like Bayern and Barcelona, he was always named the best player in the competition.

"Now Tottenham must take care of him. He will play with the seniors straight away and they must give him a chance. You must take care of the boy. He can be a top, top player in Europe."

So how will the youngster adapt to the rigours and attention that the Premier League will thrust upon him?

"He is good up here (points to his head). Don't worry about that. They must give him a chance," said the experienced Swede.

"With the ball he will adapt very quickly. He's also very good with his head. He scores goals with his head. He's quite tall. Both he and Dejan are very good players, but Lucas is better at this age."

Bergvall has played a lot of football recently for Djurgarden, who have faced cup matches and league games galore, and he was taken off 65 minutes into the match against his old club on Thursday night despite being the catalyst behind them taking control of the game.

"We've had a lot of games in recent weeks so I think it was a good call from the coaches to take me off," explained the teenager and on returning to Brommapojkarna, he added: "They're my boyhood club. It was really fun to come back here and put in a really good performance. It was really nice."

So what has life been like for Bergvall since deciding against a move to Barcelona to sign for Tottenham?

"It was a lot [to deal with], especially in the last few weeks when you have to fix everything for England but you're also playing a lot of games at the same time. It's really hard, but it's ok. I think I'm over that and now I've got three games left and I'm really happy to play in them," he explains.

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Just a week of playing time remains for the youngster at Djurgarden. He will play at home against Halmstad again on Monday night, travel to Mjaliby on Saturday before signing off at the Tele2 Arena against Hammarby on June 2.

That the Swedish season began in April means that Bergvall will not only face a year of near non-stop football but he will also face what most players would have nightmares about - two pre-seasons.

"I'm trying to do my best here for the supporters and for the team. I have three games left so I'm trying to put all my focus here and playing the best I can so I can come into Tottenham in good form," he explained.

"Then I have another pre-season. It's a double pre-season for me! In Sweden you have three or four months of pre-season from January to April when the league starts. So I'll have another one but I'm not going to complain! I can't complain!"

Spurs will ensure that the teenager gets the required time throughout the season to rest and he will have a short break before joining.

"Tottenham have done a really good job with that and have offered me a few extra days so if I want then I can take that, but I think I have two or three weeks off, so that's good," he said. "I'm going on vacation with my family and girlfriend. I'll have my last game against Hammarby and then I go on international duty for maybe 10 days and then I'll start at Tottenham on July 1 so I'll have some rest first.

"It's fine though, I love this. I love football but it's good I suppose to rest mentally and get your energy back. It's going to be a really exciting new season, with a lot of good impressions to make on a lot of new people so I have to be mentally prepared."

Bergvall has already made a good impression on his new boss Ange Postecoglou.

The Australian told back in February: "I think he's a really talented young player. Obviously he's just beginning his career. Johan [Lange] and the scouting department did a lot of work with him. We met the family, great family and he's a great kid."

Bergvall enjoyed his talks with Postecoglou and is looking forward to working under the attacking coach.

"It was a really good conversation. He's a really honest and kind man. We talked and he was really happy and me too of course. It was really great," he said.

In Thursday night's match, Bergvall popped up all over the pitch, playing in the first half in a disciplined mostly deeper role, mostly as a number eight but sometimes as a six. In the second half, he was pushed up to devastating effect as a number 10 and in both halves showed an ability to drift wide when required to both flanks.

He is a passer, dribbler and someone who takes the game by the scruff of the neck despite his tender years. So where will he fit into Postecoglou's system?

"I like to have the ball at my feet and do lots of running. I play midfield, but I can come out on the side and get the ball, but we haven't talked about that so much. I'll be a midfielder I hope!" said the Swedish teen with a laugh.

There is also the presence of Kulusevski and Bergvall's face lights up when you mention his countryman, who played a big role in telling the young midfielder all about Spurs when it was neck and neck between the Premier League club and Barcelona as they competed for his signature.

"He's from Brommapojkarna as well. The same club!" said Bergvall. "I've met him a few times and he's a really nice, kind guy. I talked to him and he said he's there for me if I need to ask him anything.

"He's had a really great time at Tottenham. He talked a lot about the club and how it's the beginning of a new era with Ange as the new coach and they're trying to build something up. They want me in that so he talked just about the club and what they want to achieve in the next few years."

The man who brokered the deal to Spurs - believed to be a record one for a Swedish youngster - is Bo Andersson. Djurgarden's sporting director is known as 'Bosse' or 'Super Bosse' and if you're looking for a force of nature of a character, the 55-year-old businessman and former striker is your man.

He's all charm, eye-contact and self-belief, coupled with the occasional, unexpected high-pitched giggle. When Daniel Levy's reputation as a fearsome negotiator is pointed out, it prompts the simple reply - "Yeah, but so am I." has a full interview to come with Andersson about the eye-catching deal for Bergvall and his negotiations with both Levy and Johan Lange. The Djurgarden transfer supremo knows that the Allsvenskan club will get their money for Bergvall.

"When you buy a talent like Lucas at his age, you put in things that you know will increase the price if he produces," he explains. "With him that's almost a guarantee because I'm quite sure Lucas will be a success and stay there for many years. It's not a bank guarantee but in my world it's that."

Andersson visited Spurs' training ground and the huge stadium in N17 during the negotiations and after the deal was done.

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"I am proud of Lucas now and I will be proud when I see him play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium because as a sporting director you are in the journey of his career. This is everything for me, from last summer with all the phone calls, all the contacts, all the people and it ended like this. I will be proud of this transfer for all of my life.

"When you get, on your 18th birthday, to sign a five-year contract with a big Premier League club it's an amazing story."

Andersson has no doubt that Tottenham have bought themselves a star in the making.

"He will be a very good player for the Sweden national team and he's a different kind of person. He has the talent and when in a club with better players and an environment that trusts in him with a big investment, this sky is the limit for him," says the former Braga forward.

He believes Kulusevski's presence will be beneficial to Bergvall but is backing the youngster to adapt to life himself at a club that will fit him like a glove.

"I think having Kulusevski there will help him, of course having another Swedish person there and someone from the same background. They both came from Brommapojkarna and I know that Kulusevski will take care of him, but I'm quite sure that everyone will take care of Lucas because when I was there I could tell that Tottenham are very much a family club," he said.

"I saw the message he got from Sonny and they were very proud when Lucas signed for them so I'm not worried even if Dejan is not around [at times] because he will have the right situation."

Bergvall has been watching Tottenham intently since committing his future to the club and he saw his new boss Postecoglou in a furious mood after the defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday evening.

All the talk around that night was about how hard Spurs would try to win the game, knowing it would help push Arsenal towards the title if they did. Postecoglou will have no such worries over motivation when it comes to Bergvall.

"I've been watching a lot of the games. I watched the last game against City," said the teenager. "They played really well, but sometimes it's hard. I saw that he was angry and I read it was about Arsenal and all that. I agree with him, I think you should always play to win every game like he said."

So what can Tottenham supporters expect from their new signing when he arrives in July to begin this new chapter in his career?

Bergvall thought for a moment before saying: "A really hard-working guy who wants to take the ball forward and score goals and play for the team and Ange."

With that it's time to go and with the air of someone so much older, Bergvall places his hand on this reporter's shoulder. "See you in pre-season," he says with that grin.

With a little bit of time and patience, amid plenty of excitement, everyone in Sweden is confident that Lucas Bergvall will deliver exactly what he's promised and more. Premier League beware.

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