IT IS rarely how you might be expecting a workforce to arrange for a big European fit.
Back in November, Graham Potter’s Ostersunds had been about to host Ukrainians Zorya Luhansk, realizing a win would put them into the Europa League final 32.
Yet only some days earlier than their huge clash, the Swedes had been staging an overly other efficiency — an open-air rap live performance!
It was once simply the newest end-of-year display this football-cum-culture membership have held, following different productions together with a rock gig and a efficiency of the ballet Swan Lake.
Laughing at an image of him rapping, Solihull-born boss Potter, 42, admitted to SunSport: “That’s me looking to glance a little bit gangster!
“I wouldn’t name what I did a rap, it was once extra rhyming. But a few of the boys rapped and had been in reality excellent.
“I used to be pondering, that is relatively peculiar that we’re training and doing this earlier than we’ve were given this large recreation.
“But it was good because it took our minds off the game and we won 2-0.”
That victory arrange Ostersunds’ subsequent giant display — the next day’s clash with the Gunners, which Potter says is the “talk of the town”.
Arsenal are visiting Sweden’s ‘Winter City’, the place they will play on a synthetic pitch and the reasonable temperature in February is -8C.
Potter smiled: “It was -20 degrees just a few days ago. It’s -5 today, but we don’t think that’s cold!”
Minnows Ostersunds had been simplest shaped in 1996 — 19 days AFTER Arsene Wenger’s first fit as Arsenal boss.
In seven seasons below Potter they’ve gained 3 promotions, lifted the Swedish Cup and are available via a Europa League workforce containing Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin.
They have executed so with a workforce of misfits and migrants — and minimum monetary sources.
Ostersunds’ annual turnover is simplest £5million, 100 instances smaller than that of Arsenal.
Their best earner is on £2,000 every week, with their complete finances for switch charges and wages final yr simply £1m.
The membership’s biggest-ever purchase is £65,000 striker Saman Ghoddos — a way off the club-record £60m Arsenal splashed out on ahead Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang final month.
Potter admitted: “That puts it into perspective. The differences are stark, that’s for sure.”
The lakeside the city of Ostersund in mid-Sweden has a inhabitants of fewer than 50,000 and Potter added: “There are extra individuals who move to the Emirates on a matchday than there live in Ostersund.
“Arsenal shouldn’t be taking part in towards us, that’s the truth. But it’s implausible for us. It’s going to be a proud evening. Fans were queuing up outdoor to shop for tickets they usually can have offered the recreation out a couple of instances over.
“It’s the greatest recreation in the membership’s historical past however we appeared to say that each different week in 2017.
“We haven’t in reality any historical past or custom, so we’re breaking floor all the time.
“Arsenal are obviously the big favourites and we will have to play really well — but it’s a bit boring if you don’t think you have a chance of winning.”
Former defender Potter by no means confronted Arsenal as a participant. He was once at Birmingham, Stoke and West Brom however spent a lot of his time in the decrease leagues, the place he made his maximum appearances for York.
He was once running at Leeds Beckett University when he was once approached about taking up the fourth-tier Swedes, after his previous Boston team-mate Graeme Jones beneficial him to chairman Daniel Kindberg.
Potter recalled: “It was once in reality tough at the get started. My spouse Rachel admitted to me later that, for the first six months, she just about cried each day.
“I keep in mind she went to the nursery with our boy Charlie. They requested what she was once doing there and he or she mentioned, ‘My husband has got a job here’.
“They mentioned, ‘What does he do?’, and he or she responded, ‘He’s a soccer trainer’.
“They requested who I coached and when she instructed them it was once Ostersunds, they mentioned, ‘I’d move house if I had been you’.
“The membership had simply been relegated and we didn’t in reality have supporters, we simply had other folks looking at soccer. They weren’t too whether or not we gained or misplaced.
“At the time, the list attendance inside of our stadium was once for snow-cross — racing snowmobiles.
“So what has took place has been improbable. You assume, ‘Wow, we’ve executed relatively a little bit’.
“This is our house now. We’ve had twins born right here, my spouse is in reality settled and our eldest Charlie, who got here right here at 11 months, is seven years previous and fluent in Swedish.
“It’s been an amazing journey and transformation.”
Potter unquestionably would by no means have anticipated to were rapping on level when he first moved right here.
But he is a big recommend of the membership’s annual cultural tasks — a brainchild of Kindberg — with paintings already below manner in this yr’s efficiency, a collaboration with a Swedish theatre workforce.
Potter is sitting in his small place of business subsequent to the stadium, which has a capability of simply nine,000 or even fewer for European suits.
There is an image of the membership’s Swan Lake manufacturing putting up on his wall and he defined: “We try to help our players improve as footballers but also as people. You see the lads in uncomfortable situations outside their football environment and it has been really powerful from a team-building perspective.”
Given his achievements, Potter is, relatively rightly, recognised as a hero right here.
A large flag of his face was once waved all through Friday’s Three-Zero Swedish Cup win over Trelleborgs — their first fit of the new home season, with the earlier one completing in November.
In an interview with SunSport in October, Potter published there was once a suggestion to get a statue constructed in his honour, which he mentioned he was hoping would no longer occur because it was once “embarrassing”.
The relieved boss mentioned: “That article got back to Sweden and it was like, ‘Oh, if it’s embarrassing for him, then it’s not something we should do’.”
In fresh weeks Potter’s identify has been related with jobs again in England, together with posts at West Brom, Swansea and Stoke.
But he added: “There were no gives. Often it’s simply paper communicate but it surely displays that we’ve executed smartly right here.
“When I glance from afar at the English recreation, it’s a precarious trade in phrases of time and possession.
“I’ve spent a very long time development what I’ve were given right here. I’d must be positive of the subsequent step, anywhere this is.
“But I’m settled here, I’m happy here. Of course I’m ambitious, but I think the club is ambitious as well. We want to try to win the league and then try to get into the Champions League.”