once sensational in the Classic, now together in Solna
Prodigies. Top talents. Scandinavian sensations. Once, after the Klassieker, people were short of superlatives to describe the soccer qualities of John Guidetti and Viktor Fischer.
When top talents Fischer and Guidetti were still decisive in the Klassieker
It is January 2012 when the then 19-year-old Guidetti makes his debut in the Klassieker. Earlier that season, in Amsterdam, the Swede sat on the bench for ninety minutes. In Rotterdam, he becomes the big man with a hat trick in the 4-2 victory over the archrival.
It is January 2013 when the then 18-year-old Fischer makes his debut in the Klassieker. Earlier that season, in Rotterdam, the Dane sat on the bench for ninety minutes. In Amsterdam, he becomes the big man with two goals in the 3-0 victory over the arch-rival.
The great promises of Guidetti and Fischer are never quite fulfilled. No FC Barcelona or Manchester City, anno 2023 the top talents of yore – in what should be the best years of their careers – are playing together at AIK Solna in Sweden.
“I sometimes feel like the world passes me by, because I’m involved in soccer day in and day out.” Even at a young age, Fischer is different from many teammates. He thinks. Only to think about those thoughts again.
Glands in the head
Mulling. Or as he puts it himself, “Just gabbling in my head.” He unexpectedly gets plenty of time for that during his career. In fact, his career is marked by injuries.
When he was sixteen, Ajax brought him to the Netherlands from Denmark. To a host family in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel to be exact. Even in his little attic room he broods. He loves his host family, but it is not like home.
In his first season with the A-selection, Fischer, emotional on the field and quiet outside, goes like a comet. In 23 duels, he reaches 10 goals and 5 assists. It must be the beginning of something beautiful, but he never reaches double figures after that.
An injury, misdiagnosis and failed surgery kept the young footballer sidelined for a year in his second season with Ajax.
“There he had to compromise in terms of agility and speed,” states Danish former Ajax player Søren Lerby, Fischer’s business manager for many years.
‘Viktor wanted, would and had to’
“Viktor stood out tremendously in youth and was soon on all the lists of the big clubs. He did everything he could, but due to injuries he did not become what was expected of him,” said Lerby, who still speaks to his former pupil from time to time.
“He was perhaps also too critical of himself. He wanted, would and had to. Then sometimes as a footballer you just cramp up. Viktor tried to find a solution for everything, but there is not always a solution in top sport. It’s not math. That gave frustration.”
His last game for Ajax is the debacle at the Vijverberg, where Frank de Boer’s team forfeits the title by playing a draw against De Graafschap. Fischer is a substitute.
He leaves for Middlesbrough, then plays for Mainz, Copenhagen and Antwerp, but the eloquent Dane never becomes as good as in his first season with Ajax.
“I was at my best when a little voice in my head said: you are better than the rest. Sometimes you really want to say that to yourself, but you don’t believe it,” Fischer once looked back.
John Guidetti doesn’t need a little voice in his head. If anyone is convinced of himself, it is the Swedish hotshot, when he joined Feyenoord as a Manchester City mercenary in 2011.
Fierce boss Guidetti
A fierce boss with a Zlatanesque portion of self-confidence. Flamboyant, averse to hierarchy, irritating at times, but mostly good. The season before, the Rotterdammers finished tenth(!). Guidetti, with his guts, makes Feyenoord a top club again.
The hat-trick against Ajax makes him legendary among the Legion. Just like the moment he joins the wave on the pitch during the match, which goes through the swirling Kuip.
He wants to become the best striker in Europe and seems well on his way, too, until Guidetti also faces setbacks. A virus keeps him sidelined for the last duels at Feyenoord. In the end, Guidetti is out of action for months. “A hell,” he calls it.
Every now and then he still shows what he can do at Stoke City, Celtic, Celta de Vigo, Deportivo Alaves and Hannover 96. But it never gets as good as that one season in Rotterdam.
He did make himself even more popular with Feyenoord supporters in 2016, with a goal in the Europa League on behalf of Celta de Vigo against Ajax in Amsterdam.
He falls in, scores, cheers with his hands behind his ears and shouts “Feyenoord, Feyenoord!” to the Ajax crowd, which goes absolutely wild. He also raises three fingers into the air, referring to his hat trick in the Klassieker.
So years later, the former top talents of Ajax and Feyenoord are teammates in Sweden, where at AIK Solna they form a forward who should scare every opponent.
Big names in Solna
With their names, at least, they are already making a lot of impression in Sweden, knows journalist Marcus Bring, who works on behalf of Fotboll Sthlm the club follows.
“When the first rumors about Fischer came out, everyone was talking about it. People in Sweden remember him from his time at Ajax. It’s still a big name, especially for Solna.”
“The arrival of Guidetti last year was even bigger, because of course he is a Swede. Still, he disappointed a bit in his first season. It’s often about his physicality. People sometimes think he’s too heavy,” Bring said.
In the new season in Sweden – the league plays out by calendar year – the soccer journalist expects a lot from AIK’s king couple.
“They wouldn’t have thought ten years back to be playing in Sweden now, but Guidetti and Fischer are still the best attackers in the league here with their talent.”