Tony Gustavsson: "It feels like it has come to a moment where this is what I have been waiting for"
From men’s and women’s football, Sweden to the United States, Olympic Games and FIFA Women’s World Cups, Tony Gustavsson has extensive experience to draw on when taking up the reins of the Westfield Matildas.
“I hope and I feel maybe the 21 years I have had of coaching have put me in the positions to be ready for this,” said Tony Gustavsson on his unveiling.
“It feels like it has come to a moment where this is what I have been waiting for, to lead the Matildas for four years and also looking forward to the World Cup in 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.”
The 47-year-old may be unfamiliar to Australian football fans but he is certainly familiar with women’s football and the Westfield Matildas.
After matching up against Australia on the opposition bench over the past five years, Gustavsson will now be the man to lead the team from the touchline.
The son of a schoolteacher and football coach in Sundsvall, Sweden, Gustavsson followed his father into the family passion resulting in a 16-year playing career.
WATCH: FIRST Press Conference with Tony Gustavsson
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During his time on pitch, he complemented his work off the pitch as a maths and physical education teacher.
With those strong communication and teaching skills, he was able to transfer what he’d learned in the classroom to the sideline.
Gustavsson transitioned first to a player/coach and then to a full-time coach, completing his UEFA Pro License.
At the start of the millennium, the Swede began to hone his coaching craft with clubs in Sweden and Norway. After spending 12 years in club land, Gustavsson was given the chance to move to the international stage.
I hope and I feel maybe the 21 years I have had of coaching have put me in the positions to be ready for this.”
A chance message and call changed his career trajectory from men’s football, to the women’s game where he has been a crucial figure in the US Women’s National Team’s success over the past decade.
Gustavsson’s first stint with the USWNT began in 2012 where he became an assistant to fellow countrywoman, Pia Sundhage. As part of the coaching set up, he had first row access as the USWNT’s won the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
Those American connections then served him in his return to club land that same year when he returned home to take over the reins at Tyresö FF.
Bringing over the likes of Brazilian superstar Marta and current Manchester United player Christen Press to the team, Tyresö FF won the Damallsvenskan title in 2012 – the first in their club history.
The team continued to grow under his tutelage, making it all the way to the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in 2014, before ultimately falling to German powerhouse VfL Wolfsburg.
In 2015 Gustavsson once again answered the call of the United States, this time with Jill Ellis asking him join as her assistant.
During this five-year stint, the team would go on to win back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups at Canada 2015 and France 2019.
Holding assistant and head coaching roles at club and country level, Gustavsson has achieved plenty and he joins the Westfield Matildas at an exciting time in the national team’s history.
With the postponed Tokyo Olympics next year, the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023 all to look forward to, Gustavsson is an experienced operator ready to step up and lead.