"I Knew Sunderland Was A Massive Club With Great Fans" - An Interview With Tobias Hysen

Toby in action for his national team

Hello there Roker Reportees.

You've heard me say many times before that we at Roker Report search high and wide for the interviews that we think you will enjoy most. Whether the person in question is a club legend, or only made one start, we scour the world looking for ex-pros to talk to for your viewing pleasure.

So, with that in mind, we were delighted when our former Swedish winger Tobias 'Toby' Hysen agreed to have a few words with us about his, admittedly, short time at the club.

And what better way to start, than to let the man himself kick things off...

"HA´WAY THE LADS!!! Hi there all of you Black Cats fans, this is Toby Hysen sending you a message from Sweden, and especially for Billy Wilson - this is Toby from Esweden..."

We hope you appreciated that Billy, now on to what else Toby had to say... 

Hi Toby, it's our pleasure to speak to you. Your father Glenn was a great player back in the day, what sort of influence did he have when you were first starting out?

Toby: My Father was a great player back in his days and obviously he’s been a great influence on me. Having grown up with him abroad though, my Grandfather was the biggest role model for me. He was the one watching all the games when I was young, and he still does. Together with my mother, he is the reason I’m where I’m at today.

You signed for Sunderland in 2006, when did you hear about our interest, and what was the decisive factor in you joining?

Toby: All I knew was Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and the Stadium of Light. However, the decisive factor was the facilities - my God, they were so awesome compared to what I was used to!

I knew Sunderland was a massive club, with great fans, but I could never have imagined the support of the club was going to be as fantastic as it was when I was there.

What is your favourite memory from your time at Sunderland?

Toby: My favorite memory has to be the first game at Stadium of Light. We had no points and had just been brutally dismissed from the Carling Cup by Bury. West Bromwich Albion came to visit and Roy Keane was in the stands, having been announced as the new manager of the club. That game was magical to me, I made the second goal, as Neill Collins headed in the winner from my freekick and the rest of the game was just pure joy.

And then of course Burnley in the last home game of the season. Carlos Edwards scored a screamer to win us the game that in the end, won us promotion.

A lot of people thought you were unlucky not to get more games in your time at the club, did you feel you deserved to play more?

Toby: My time in Sunderland AFC was in fact very good, I enjoyed playing with the team and I won the league, but of course I was unhappy with my role in the team. But having said that, the Gaffer, Roy Keane, was always honest and open with the terms. If I wasn’t in the team, I wasn’t amongst the best 11 at that given day.

I respect him a whole lot, as he’s probably the best manager I´ve ever had. I would love for him to have success.

We all remember the incident when we travelled to Barnsley for a league game. You along with Anthony Stokes and Marton Fulop were all left behind after missing the team bus. What happened that day?

Toby: The bus incident… Yeah, what didn’t happen on that day! First of all, it was my 25th birthday, what a good day that turned out to be, ha ha ha!

Marton (Fulop) was picking me up, because my girlfriend needed our car. He got stuck at his house because of an accident on the road, we took a wrong turn, came in about 15 minutes late and as I was speaking to Deano (Whitehead) on the phone, he told us that the Gaffer said for us to go home again. Worst day of my life in a way.

Roy Keane publically said he used this incident to make an example. Did you feel this was harsh at all, and how was your relationship with him generally?

Toby: That incident was just one of many things that he could have reacted to. I accept the fact he set an example, it was justified. Having said that, it was my only late arrival that season and he knew that. That’s why I was starting the next game I think. It was my chance to redeem myself.

You said that you left the club for 'non-football reasons', what was the hardest thing about moving to Sunderland?

Toby: The only reason I left was because we couldn’t settle in off the pitch. I was enjoying myself big-time, but my girlfriend and me never enjoyed life in Durham. We had great neighbours and everything, but it just didn’t feel right.

I’ve never played for money, so when I got the chance to move back home, I took it. We were pregnant with our first child at the time as well and that had a big influence in our decision."

Were you disappointed to move before getting the chance to play in the Premiership?

Toby: Playing in the Premier League was always a dream of mine, but I’ve come to realise that you can make dreams out of pretty much everything.

I’m living the dream right now – I’ve got two beautiful boys, Lucas and Lion, that occupies my time, when I’m not scoring goals for IFK (Gothenberg)!

We might not be the best team in the world, but we´re trying to be. My primary target at the moment is to qualify for the Europa League next year."

Who was the best player, in your eyes, that you played alongside at Sunderland?

Toby: The best players I played with were Dean Whitehead and Jonny Evans. Two superb players that I wish all the best, even though Jonny plays for "those of who we do not speak" ha ha ha! By the way, I am a Liverpool fan."

And the best that you played against?

Toby: Best player I played against with Sunderland has to be Gareth Bale. The best that I ever played against generally though are Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved.

Do you still follow Sunderland at all?

Toby: I still follow Sunderland, although there’s almost no-one left in the squad from when I was there, but the backroom staff is still familiar. Dave, Billy, Scotty and probably some more was always nice to me. Billy Wilson will always have special place in my book.

How does the Swedish league compare with the Premiership?

Toby: The best Swedish teams would struggle to avoid relegation in the Premiership over the full season. IFK Gothenburg, my team, would probably be in the mix to gain a play-off place in the Championship.

And finally to put you on the spot, Sunderland take on local rivals Newcastle soon, give us a prediction for the game...

Toby: Sunderland v Newcastle can only have one outcome… 2-0!! Both goals scored by Seb Larsson, one of my good friends! (You heard it here first! - Dan)

Thank you for your time Toby, we wish you all the best with IFK this season!

Toby: I wish you all the best, and hope you will remember me as a player who always gave 100%, even though I wasn’t with you for a very long time!

And that, folks, was our pacy ex-winger Toby Hysen. We'd like to offer a big thanks to Toby for taking the time to answer our questions, but also to Gustav Hessfelt and all of the other extremely helpful staff at IFK for putting us in touch with him. You can keep track of Toby, and IFK's progress this season by visiting their website at www.ifkgoteborg.se.

And with that, I will say goodbye, offer another thanks to Toby, and suggest that you visit Roker Report again very soon for all of the best build up to Saturday's game.

Why not get yourself subscribed to The Roker Report Podcast? It's free every Thursday, and it's all SAFC, all the time. By fans, for fans, who aren't afraid to say it how it is. Here's a handy link to iTunes for you - http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-roker-report-podcast-www/id437085978

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