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2017 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year: Hedvig Lindahl profile

Hedvig Lindahl: Meet the nominee

We are profiling each of the five nominees for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2017 award. You can see all their profiles, read full terms and vote here for your favourite online until 08:00 GMT/09:00 BST on Monday, 15 May.

Penalty shootouts may be nerve-shredding events for most footballers, but for BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2017 nominee Hedvig Lindahl, it appears to be where she excels.

The Sweden and Chelsea goalkeeper helped her country win a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics with her shootout heroics against USA in the quarter-finals and Brazil in the semi-finals.

“I had studied them so closely and the last save in that penalty shootout [against Brazil] is probably the one I’m most proud of because it was so far out, and I could stretch and I was really explosive to get there,” she said.

“No-one could have expected us to come away with the silver, so we performed over everyone’s expectation.”

Lindahl and Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic won Sweden’s top player awards last year

In December 2016, Lindahl joined Sweden’s most famous footballer, Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on stage as they won Sweden’s female and male Footballer of the Year awards respectively.

The pair started their football careers 16 years ago at the same club – Malmo – but their lives have gone in very different directions.

“What a difference it is, what kind of life he has, what kind of life I have, it’s just interesting,” Lindahl said.

“I remember I was part of the 2003 World Cup squad that came second – I thought everyone would know who I am because I’d been in the World Cup final squad and then I woke up and realised it’s women’s football and it’s not really like that.

“Growing up, you thought that being a footballer would bring fame and fortune, but being a female footballer means for me now that I am part of something that opens doors for so many other women in the world that still struggle with their own rights and right to play football.”

Lindahl helped Chelsea Ladies to a league and cup double in 2015

Lindahl signed for London-based Women’s Super League club Chelsea Ladies in December 2014 and within a few months it proved to be a dream move.

At the 2015 FA Women’s Cup final, staged at Wembley Stadium for the first time, Lindahl kept goal in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Notts County.

It was Chelsea’s first major trophy and later that year they secured their first FA WSL title for a league and cup ‘double’.

The goalkeeper says none of her success with Chelsea would have been possible without the support she received from wife Sabine.

“My proudest moment is the birth of our two sons, but my wife Sabine made a massive sacrifice to come with me to England,” she said.

“I’m very, very thankful because that decision has made me excel, which means I didn’t have to become that bitter, old woman in a sports bar saying, ‘I could have been that one!’

“It’s an exciting time to be part of women’s football wherever you are in the world right now. It’s like it’s boiling, it’s just waiting to really take off and if I can stretch my career a few more years to be part of that – maybe all of my years that I struggled will be worth it because of the years that lie ahead.”

Why vote for me?

“Please vote for me if you think I’m worth it and also because I’ve always had a dream about being the best goalkeeper in the world and if you vote for me that’s solidifying my dream and hopefully that could inspire other girls out there to reach for their dreams.”

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