Djurgårdens IF Fotboll

  • City: Stockholm
  • Founded: 1891 (1899 for the football section)
  • Ground: Stockholmsarenan / Tele2 Arena (30,000)
  • Nicknames: DIF; Järnkaminerna (The Iron Stoves); Blåränderna (The Blue Stripes)
  • Colours: Sky blue and navy blue vertical striped shirt, navy blue shorts, sky blue socks.
  • 2022 League: Allsvenskan
  • Club Website: https://dif.se//
  • Club Twitter: @DIF_Fotboll

Honours

  • Best League Finish: 1st in the Allsvenskan (8 times)
  • Best Svenska Cupen Finish: Winners (5 times)
  • Swedish Champions
    • Winners (12): 1912, 1915, 1917, 1920, 1954–55, 1959, 1964, 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2019
  • Allsvenskan
    • Winners (8): 1954–55, 1959, 1964, 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2019
  • Svenska Cupen
    • Winners (5): 1989–90, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2017–18
  • Svenska Mästerskapet
    • Winners (4): 1912, 1915, 1917, 1920
  • Superettan
    • Winners (1): 2000
  • Division 1 Norra
    • Winners (3): 1987, 1994, 1998

Djurgårdens Idrottsförening Fotbollsförening, commonly known as Djurgårdens IF, Djurgården Fotboll, or Djurgården, is a Swedish football team that currently plays in the Allsvenskan, the top tier in the Swedish football pyramid. They are the joint-fourth most successful team in Swedish championships having won twelve of them during their history, and are currently one of the strongest teams within the Allsvenskan having finished as runners-up in the 2022 Allsvenskan table. Originally founded on the central Stockholmer island of Djurgården, and historically based in the central district of Östermalm, the club is currently based in the southern district of Johanneshov. Djurgården play their home games at the 30,000-capacity, UEFA Category 4-rated Tele2 Arena (known by the unsponsored name of the Stockholmsarenan), which is a multi-purpose stadium with a retractable roof that was opened in 2013. As well as being a stadium to host concerts, large events, and multiple other sports, Djurgården shares the modern stadium with their Stockholmer rivals Hammarby IF.

Djurgårdens IF was founded in 1891 in a cafe on the island of Djurgården as a multi-sports society, initially focusing on winter sports and athletics, before a football section was included in the sports club in 1899. The football club became one of the strongest teams in Sweden during the first couple of decades of the 20th century, appearing in their first Swedish championship final in 1904, and then finishing as runners-up on a further three occasions between 1906 and 1910. It wouldn’t be until 1912 that Djurgården achieved their first Swedish championship, beating Örgryte IS in the national final. This would open the floodgates for DIF when they achieved three more Swedish championships between 1915 and 1920 and two other runners-up spots during that time. Alas, the club’s fortunes would decrease going into the interwar period, with the club only reaching the Allsvenskan (founded in 1924) on two occasions between 1924 and 1944, both times being relegated after just a season playing in the top division.

The club would experience a second ‘golden era’ during the 1950s and 1960s when they won four Allsvenskan titles during the period. Djurgården won their first Swedish championship in 35 years when the club won the 1954-55 Allsvenskan title, and then became the first Swedish club to compete in the European Cup, where they advanced to the quarter-finals before losing to Scottish champions Hibernian. Further Swedish titles came in 1959, 1964, and 1966, and it was during this period that the club earned their nickname “Järnkaminerna” (“The Iron Furnaces/Stoves“) due to the club’s physical, hard-working, and uncompromising playing style. The 1970s to 1990s would be a barren time for DIF, with the club suffering relegation from the Allsvenskan on a number of occasions during the decades, and not achieving much success on the pitch. The highlight of that barren period however was Djurgården’s first Svenska Cupen victory in the 1990 final, when the club defeated BK Häcken 3-0, and eliminated the heartbreak of the previous year’s cup final when they lost in the 1989 edition by the same scoreline to Malmö.

The fortunes of Djurgården improved dramatically in the 2000s when they won three Allsvenskan titles in four years (2002, 2003, and 2005) and three Svenska Cupen victories (2002, 2004, and 2005) in the same period, to create a brief yet historic third ‘golden era’ for the Iron Stoves, although trophies soon dried up towards the back end of the decade. Nonetheless, after an uneventful period, Djurgården returned to trophy-winning ways by winning their fifth Svenska Cupen in 2018 (gaining revenge for the 1989 final defeat by beating Malmö 3-0), before clinching their eighth Allsvenskan in the following year by a single point in a tightly-contested season. Currently, Djurgården are one of the strongest teams in Swedish football having just finished their 2022 Allsvenskan season as runners-up to brand new champions BK Häcken, plus their performances in European competition has seen the club’s profile increase. In their UEFA Europa Conference League group, it saw Djurgården finish strongly as the undefeated group winners by winning five of their six group games to progress to the Last 16 of the competition and be the only Swedish club left in European competition for this season!

To talk about the twelve-time Swedish champions and the best-performing Stockholm-based club in this season’s Allsvenskan, we spoke to the excellent Mikaelinho. Mika is a Swedish Football Manager blogger and Twitch streamer who supports Djurgården and is currently managing the club in his latest FM23 Twitch stream series titled “The Iron Stoves of Djurgården“. To find out more about Mika’s fortunes with his favourite club, as well as read his superbly-written Football Manager blogs, you can find his Twitch channel, blog site, and social media channels at the links below:

Q. Who would you say is Djurgården’s best player, and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?

Stefan Rehn

Answering questions like this about the club you’ve followed and loved since childhood is a bit like getting asked to pick your favourite child as a parent. It was tricky to pick and the more I thought about it the harder it became. The list of great players and managers just kept growing and growing until it reached a point where I realized that this wasn’t really helping me at all. I scrapped the list and just went with my guts. Or my heart. Or both. And then it was actually really easy. The best player of all time, for me, must be Stefan Rehn. He made his debut for Djurgården in 1984 and played 123 games for the club before getting sold to Everton in 1989, which means that I was too young to really remember him from back then. It doesn’t feel like that though, since the many stories my father told me about Stefan Rehn’s transformation from a shy 18-year-old to a full-fledged midfield maestro made it seem like I had seen it too.

I finally got to experience the master at work in the year of 2000. After a very anonymous year with Everton where he only played 6 matches, his career took off again at a 5-year spell with IFK Gothenburg followed by another 5 years with Swiss team Lausanne. But ahead of the 2000 season, at age 34, Stefan Rehn finally came back home to Djurgården. His return to the club coincided with my most passionate years as a Djurgården supporter, following the team both home and away, no matter the distance. He was never a physical player, and in all honesty, he was past his prime when he came back. It didn’t matter that he never ran the most or the fastest and I didn’t care about the fact that he very rarely attempted any aerial challenges. None of us in the stand cared. Because Stefan Rehn possessed a quality that very few footballers have. He made everything look so very easy and he played his football with a smile on his face. In some matches, he never left the centre circle, but he was still the best player on the pitch. By a country mile. In 2002, his final season of professional football, he managed to lead Djurgården to the first league title in 36 years in a sensational turnaround for the club that had been playing 2nd tier football only two seasons ago!

Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ for the club in both past and present squads?

Steve Galloway

I’m gonna name two cult heroes. First of all the striker Steve Galloway deserves a mention. He only played for Djurgården a little more than a season, back in 1988/89, but he managed to achieve legendary status in that short period. He started his football career with Sutton United, before moving to Crystal Palace, followed by Maidstone United, without really getting noticed or even playing a lot. It wasn’t until he made the unorthodox move to the small Swedish club Tegs SK for the 1987 season that things started happening. At age 24, he played his first full season of senior football and by scoring 16 goals in 21 games he secured a move to Djurgården. His goalscoring ability quickly made him popular with the supporters, but it was the fact that he was such a lovable character on and off the pitch that made him into such a fan favourite.

Pa Dembo Touray

The second player worth mentioning is Pa Dembo Touray. He came to Djurgården from Real de Banjul in Gambia at age 20 and made 195 appearances for the club between the years 2000 and 2011. He was a massive goalkeeper and could throw the ball well into the opposing half from his own goal, but he could also concede goals that my grandmother would have saved on a good day. He was such a positive presence though, a true gentle giant, and even though he left the club more than ten years ago his spirit lives on, in the form of “Kamala Vesta”, a song he introduced that the players still sing in the dressing room after every win!

Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club currently and why?

Magnus Eriksson

Magnus Eriksson [32-year-old midfielder] is the best player at the club at the moment, and he’s also the club captain. He is a true “iron stove” with his relentless playing style and his willingness to always run that extra metre and push that little bit harder. It will be very tough to fill the void he will leave when he retires.

Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?

Hjalmar Ekdal

Hjalmar Ekdal, the younger brother of Swedish international Albin Ekdal, is the one to watch. Combining a strong defensive presence with the ability to both offer the occasional assist as well as a few goals from corners, he is a natural leader in central defence.

Q. Who would you regard as DIF’s biggest or historical rivals, and also, how do you think this season has gone so far?

The biggest rivals are fellow Stockholm clubs AIK and Hammarby. I could write thousands of words about the rivalry and the Stockholm derby matches, but I’ll just stop here. Neither of them are worth spending my precious words on. I must emphasize the fact that the recently concluded Swedish league season saw Djurgården finish 2nd in the overall table and therefore as the best Stockholm club. Just like it’s supposed to be. We’re called “the pride of Stockholm” after all.

Q. Looking at the club’s history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?

I have touched upon the league title of 2002 previously and I’m gonna return to this time period as it sparked the best era for the club in modern times with another two league titles in 2003 and 2005. Apart from that, what the team has achieved this season in the Europa Conference League is a huge success. Without any real experience of competing in Europe, the team not only qualified for the group stage. They went through the group stage undefeated and qualified for the round of 16!

Group F of the 2022-23 UEFA Europa Conference League Group Stage.
[IMAGE: Wikipedia]

Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the history of the club?

The 2022 home shirt.

The design of the home shirt rarely changes and since the light blue and darker blue stripes are iconic, the changes from one season to another are very small. Therefore I must say that my favourite shirt is the one from this season, a shirt my father gave me for my birthday.

Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of Djurgården?

There’s nothing bad about being a fan of Djurgården. I remember the dark days in the 2nd tier, with preseason games on gravel against some crappy team from the suburbs. And I remember losing game after game after game in the seasons that resulted in relegation. But I’ve always loved the club. It’s in my blood, I don’t have a choice. The best thing about it is that the love is passed on through the generations. I’ve shared so many precious Djurgården moments with my father and nowadays I get to pass that love onto my own kids. It’s priceless.

Watching Djurgården at the Tele2 Arena.
[IMAGE: Courtesy of Mikaelinho]

Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Djurgårdens IF?

I’m very hopeful for the future. The club is run in a very good way, the finances are good, the team is playing some of their best football ever and the atmosphere in the stadium has been amazing this season. If we can keep this going, I see great things in our future!

A massive thank you to Mikaelinho for answering our questions on the eight-time Allsvenskan champions Djurgårdens IF Fotboll. Remember you can find their Twitch channel, blogsite, and social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.

If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

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