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In profile: Johan Mjallby

14 October 2014

An in-depth look at the career of Bolton Wanderers' new assistant manager

Neil Lennon’s trusted number two, former Sweden international Johan Mjallby played alongside the Northern Irishman for three-and-a-half years at Celtic before he returned to Parkhead as assistant manager in March 2010.

Now linking up again with Lennon at BL6, Mjallby, like the new Bolton boss, has been accustomed to success throughout his career right back to his formative years in his native Sweden, and will be keen for his next chapter to follow suite.

A keen child tennis player as well as a footballer, Mjallby had the choice to turn professional in either before he signed for Allsvenskan side AIK - the club he supported as a boy - from youth side IK Bele in 1984.

Despite having established himself a centre-back during his days with Celtic, the 43-year-old started his career as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder.

Although a squad member when AIK won the Swedish league title in 1992, it was not until later on in the 90s when Mjallby really established himself as an integral member of the Stockholm-based club’s side.

A two-time Swedish cup winner, his performances at club level were soon noticed as he was handed an international debut in 1997, while, after winning his second Allsvenskan title he joined Celtic the following year in a £1.2m deal.

Playing as a central defender, he made his debut in Celtic’s famous 5-1 Old Firm derby victory over Rangers, and would remain in that position for the rest of the 1998/99 season.

After being used in midfield during the John Barnes’ era, Mjallby was reinstated in the club’s defence under Kenny Dalglish, and soon won the first honour at Celtic as they beat Aberdeen to lift the 2000 League Cup.

The defender was included in the Sweden squad for Euro 2000, and actually scored their first goal of the tournament in their opening fixture against co-hosts Belgium.

Following Martin O’Neill’s appointment that summer, Celtic switched to a 3-5-2 formation with the Swede a mainstay on the right-hand side of the defence as the Hoops clinched the Scottish domestic treble.

Tasting Champions League football for the first time during the 2001/02 season, a second league title medal followed while Mjallby would go on to captain Sweden in the 2002 World Cup.

A prominent member of the Celtic side that reached the 2003 UEFA Cup final, the 2003/04 season was to be Mjallby’s last at Parkhead as injuries began to take their toll.

In total he won three league titles, two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups during his time in Glasgow.

Leaving Scotland to join newly-promoted La Liga side Levante, Mjallby was unable to enjoy the same level of success as he had in Scotland. Injuries restricted him to just three appearances for the club before he was forced to retire having to failed to recover sufficiently from a knee injury.

An attempt at a comeback the following year with AIK proved brief as injuries once again forced him to retire, this time for good, in May 2006.

Returning to Celtic as Lennon’s assistant manager in 2010, the Hoops dominated Scottish football during the duo’s time in charge at the club. 

Having left Celtic in May, Mjallby wasted no time in once again linking up with Lennon following his appointment as Wanderers manager in October 2014.


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