STOCKHOLM (AP) – Sweden's most-capped player, midfielder Anders Svensson, is quitting the national team.
After scoring 21 goals in 148 matches for Sweden, the 37-year-old Svensson said Thursday ''it's time to step aside and leave room for younger players who are knocking on the door to the national team.''
While rarely making headlines, Svensson was the mainstay of Sweden's midfield for more than a decade.
His most important goal for Sweden was a free kick against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup. The game ended 1-1, sending Argentina out of the tournament and Sweden through to the knockout phase. Svensson said he will continue playing club football for Elfsborg in the Swedish Allsvenskan league.
Last week, Erik Hamren announced that he would remain Sweden's manager despite the team's failure to qualify for next year's World Cup.
The Swedish Football Association said last week that Hamren signed a contract extension through the European Championship in 2016. Swedish FA chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson said, ''We are happy with the job Erik has done and are convinced he's the best man to lead us toward the next goal.''
After finishing second in its qualifying group, behind Germany, Sweden lost to Portugal in a two-match playoff for a World Cup berth. Hamren called missing the World Cup in Brazil ''the biggest setback of my career,'' and that it took him 12 days to get over it and make a decision about his future.