RR: Hi Seb! So we’re here in Stockholm and it’s bloody cold, isn’t it? How is being back home?
SL: Yeah, it’s been great.
Me and my family spent around 17 years in England and we just felt like it was the right time to move back to Sweden would give the kids some stability. It’s been great, I moved last season and we managed to win the league for the first time in nine years.
RR: So are your kids Sunderland fans?
SL: Of course.
The Stadium of Light is the stadium they have been to most and they went to every home game with my wife. They loved the surrounding and the amount of people there. I think it felt like home to them.
RR: Who was your favourite midfielder partner over your six years at Sunderland and why?
SL: I played with a lot of players, but I have to say Catts.
First of all, he’s a good friend of mine, a guy I got along with really well and you always knew what you were going to get - there was no hiding. He wasn’t afraid to tell you off and I liked that. He always gave you that bit of protection, if you made a mistake he’d put his foot in or even his head in.
Early on I enjoyed playing with Bardsley on the wing. Again, another very honest guy. I like playing with that sort of guy. I hope people would say the same about me.
There were many, but I’ll pick those two.
RR: What was your favourite Sunderland goal you scored?
SL: There was a few I scored, but I would have to say the one on my debut at Anfield ‘cause I don’t score many like that! It’s the perfect start to score like that on your debut and it got us a point, so that makes it even better.
The goal at Arsenal was a good one too, but unfortunately Robin van Persie scored one of his own free-kicks and we lost that one, so I’ll go with the one that got the team points.
RR: You enjoyed a brilliant first season and scored nine league goals from the right wing - were you frustrated you got moved into central midfield the season later?
SL: I wouldn’t say frustrated, I just felt like it was going to happen because the game was changing. I was an old fashioned winger who worked hard up and down the wing and tried to swing the ball into the box with my right foot.
It became obvious that teams were changing how they played and they were putting the ‘good foot’ in the middle so they could allow the full-backs to bomb on. It was frustrating at the start trying to work out how to fully adapt and what I could do to improve my game in that role, but I think the game just changed and naturally so did my position with it.
RR: Talk me through that Manchester City game on New Years Day. I believe you didn’t train in the week leading to it, and played with a really bad case of the flu...
SL: (Laughs) I remember it like that exactly. The doctor came to my house the day before and said I had a bad flu, but you don’t want to miss a game like that, so I said I could play and I gave what I could.
I remember just standing in the centre circle with my hands on my knees and I saw us score, but I just had nothing left to run over and celebrate!
But listen, I enjoyed it just as much, I was just a little extra tired!
RR: Let’s talk about that day at Wembley. What are your memories of that day and is it tinged with any disappointment?
SL: I remember going to the Stadium on the day and seeing all the Sunderland fans.
You’re sat on the bus and you just see red and white; there’s no blue, just red and white everywhere. You want to win for yourself, but you so badly want to win for the fans, especially when yo had been there as long as I had at that time.
I’d been to Wembley as an underdog and won before, so I knew we could do it.
I warmed up really close to the Sunderland fans and you could hear the roar just as you were warming up, and the adrenaline was just pumping. You’ll never forget that, it’s why you play football.
I don’t want to be negative, but it was a final and you either win or lose and ultimately we lost. It was a great day, but that disappointment of losing - especially as we were 1-0 up and we were playing really well - that disappointment will always be there.
RR: One of my favourite Seb Larsson memories is when we beat Newcastle at St. James in the last minute and you patted the badge in front of the Gallowgate. Did you enjoy that?
SL: I loved playing for Sunderland at St. James. I used to love going to take corners, you’d look in their faces and the anger. They were disgusted at you. I used to walk slower to the take the corners so I could see them. I loved those moments.
When you score in the last minute, you can just give them a little smile and I loved that. My one regret at Sunderland is that I didn’t score the second when I rounded the goalkeeper!
RR: What is it about Sunderland that seems to get under a players skin? You could clearly tell how much you loved the club, but you had no previous connection before signing.
SL: For me personally, it was the people around the place and the fans. I felt really welcome when I got there. The backing you get and what it means to people.
Everything felt good at Sunderland for me, and most importantly, for my family. Me and wife talk about Sunderland and she misses it.
Sunderland are the first club of all my former clubs I check the scores for. I want to come back to Sunderland and watch a game, but I want it to be a Premier League game, because the fans deserve that.