Kenny Pavey interview – July 2011
An infectious smile comes across the face of every AIK fan when I mention one name: Kenny Pavey – crowd favourite, idol of the North Stand, legend. If you wanted a definition of a whole-hearted, passionate player then I would give you Kenny Pavey. But he isn’t an English clogger; this guy has skill to go with the tough tackling.
AIK fans couldn’t believe it when he was left out of the starting eleven at the start of the season. Once he was back in the team he scored a last minute winner against ÖSK in the first full 90 minutes that he played, an example of his never-say-die attitude. With Pavey back in the team, AIK have started climbing the table. The Banguras may get the goals, but when the chips are down you would always want Pavey on your side.
Hi Kenny, how’s Stockholm life treating you?
Life is good in Stockholm. The football and my family are keeping me busy haha.
Has it been frustrating for you starting from the bench at times this season?
Yes of course. Any player that is happy to be on the bench has no ambition or belief in my eyes; I was injured just before the start of the season which meant not starting the first 3 games. I had a good run in the side then what can only be described as politics got involved and I was on the bench for another 3 games. But since then I have played from the start in every match and we have actually won every game: 6 wins in a row.
How good are the Banguras?
They are very good in my eyes. They are 2 totally different players who bring something different to Swedish football. Teteh is an out-and-out goal scorer and Mohamed likes to come deep and be a bit more creative. They have both been great this season, and rightly so there are many clubs looking at them both.
What have Alm and Nebo done to turn around the fortunes of the club this year?
I think first things first: we have a bit more stability in the team; we’re playing the right players in the right positions and not changing the squad around too much. I think it always helps to have someone from the outside come in and tune things up a little bit and that’s what Alm and the coaching staff have done. We have a lot of players that played last year and bought in a couple, whereas last year we lost so many players and tried so many different things that it wasn’t surprising we had the season we had.
What else do you think went wrong last season when the club spent so much of the year around the relegation zone?
The key thing was that we lost so many players throughout the team. Key players, regular starters, it doesn’t matter which team you are, it takes time for players to gel together. I never thought that it was going to be as bad as it was but it really was something that I’ve never experienced in my playing career before. For me this was one of the most important seasons in my life as I was going to play Champions League football. The team was totally different from the year before and we never got a chance to show people outside of Sweden how good we really were, and that was very disappointing for me.
What was going through your mind during that Syrianska match this season?
Yes, it was a bit of a crazy match. The atmosphere was great, we had more fans there than them, we had a referee that was pretty inexperienced and in my view lost control of the game a bit with all of the atmosphere and occasion. There were a couple of incidents in the match where a more experienced referee would have maybe calmed the situation down instead of talking with his cards. This was not just to us but to the home team as well and that caused an even more heated atmosphere. We went 1-0 down after about 18 minutes and within 5 minutes our striker got sent off. Then as he was leaving the pitch someone from outside the arena threw a rocket of some sort and it landed next to the linesmen damaging his ear. The referee told everyone to leave the pitch. I didn’t really know what to feel as I was still pissed off that we were losing the match. It got abandoned after 20 minutes and investigations are ongoing even though we have been deducted 3 points and fined.
We’ve seen two games in the Allsvenskan abandoned this season – at Syrianska and Malmö – due to activity from around the stands. Do you think crowd disturbances are becoming a greater problem in Sweden?
Since I’ve been in Sweden I do not think there has been that many problems, although there have been a few incidents more recently that would suggest otherwise. I think there is a lot more work to be done to be preventing things from happening at matches. I think how the English game has changed would help the situation in Sweden a lot.
AIK fans love you, with many holding you up as an example of a player who displays the AIK spirit. How does that make you feel, knowing that you’ve become such a big part of a special club?
What can I say to that? When I signed for AIK, some friends from my team in Ljungskile told me that the fans would love me. Of course I had my doubts of how well it would go, but I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would be so special. They have been amazing to me and I will never forget the support they have given me during my time here.
The documentary about the double winning season in 2009 showed a squad that was close, confident and not fazed by anything. Are the lads getting back to that mind-set now?
We had a hell of lot of characters, good players and good men. Put that in with a good run of form and a bit of luck which made the cockiness all the more natural and gave a feeling of invincibility. This season has been really good so far and we are currently 4 points from the top and have just won 6 games in a row. So naturally confidence is high and the confident characters are starting to come through. There’s still a long way to go but there are similar feelings in the air as in 2009.
The two images for me that I remember from that season are you leaping the fence when scoring against Hammarby and you going mental at Gamla Ullevi on the final day of the Allsvenskan season. First that Hammarby game – what were you screaming to the fans when you were hanging off the fence?
I was buzzing!! If the net was not there I think I would have been in the actual crowd. I was saying all sorts: “let’s have it”, “get in there”, “what”, “what”, “what” hahaha! The adrenalin was pumping so high in me that I didn’t realise that I had sliced my hand open on the metal spikes, but it all made for a good story.
What about when that late goal went in against Gothenburg – what were you screaming at Mikael Stahre when all of the players were going crazy on the pitch celebrating?
WOW what a moment. The goal went in and I was so happy that I started running all over the place. I then saw Micke Stahre running down the side of the touchline like Mourinho against United. We ran to each other like 2 love birds haha! I grabbed him and he grabbed me and I kept screaming to him “we’ve f$$king done it; we’ve f$%king done it!!”
Are you missing the games against Hammarby since their relegation?
Yes, absolutely!! I think it’s a shame for Swedish football that teams like Hammarby are not in the top league; the atmosphere is fantastic. As much as the AIK fans loved to see them go down, I think they really miss the derby matches.
Apart from AIK, who do you reckon will win the Allsvenskan this year?
I think Elfsborg and Helsingborg are our biggest threats
Do you have a plan to move back to England at some point or do you see your life as being in Sweden for the long term?
We are very happy in Sweden right now, especially in Stockholm, and being that I have a good profile in Sweden and I would like to work in football in the future, I don’t really think about it [moving back to England] too much. Plus it’s a great place to bring up kids which is a huge priority to me, so I guess at this moment no.
Could you imagine ever signing for Djurgården with the huge rivalry in Stockholm?
No, I could never do that to the AIK fans.
Do you ever find yourself singing “Å vi e AIK” to yourself?
It’s hard not to, there are so many songs that the fans have got. I find myself humming a lot of the songs and my kids are always singing them so of course I join in.
Calum Angus was telling me that he’s still coming to terms to with the price of a beer in Sweden and the smaller glasses that it’s served in where the liquid doesn’t even reach the top. Is this something you’re used to yet?
I personally don’t think it’s as bad as people go on about. When I used to go out up town at home the clubs were quite expensive. Stockholm is the capital and has the best clubs and nightlife in Sweden so you expect to pay that little bit more. A good night out does sting the pocket though haha.
Do you ever get together for a beer with Calum Angus and James Keene – the other top-flight English lads?
No, I don’t actually. Borås is quite a long way away from Stockholm but I always have a good chat with James when I’m down there and I recently had a chat with Calum for the first time. Both are top men.
When I was in the away end at Elfsborg earlier this season there was an airing of “Oh Kenny Pavey, You are the love of my life, Oh Kenny Pavey, I’d let you shag my wife” – have you had many face-to-face offerings when you’ve been walking through Gamla Stan?
Haha! No, I haven’t actually.
Have you bought a t-shirt yet that has the song words on?
Haha! No I haven’t. I was given a couple but a few of the lads at home keep going on about me bringing some back for them. I was actually told by the shop manager that the t-shirt was the fastest selling t-shirt ever in AIK which shocked me a lot.
What kind of reaction do you get from Djurgården and Hammarby fans when you’re out in town?
To be honest, I have a lot of fans from the other clubs come up to me and tell me how much they hate AIK and me, but they tell me they love my style and would like me if I played in their team. I have never had any bad incidents with any of the fans.
How do you celebrate Midsommar?
Yes we have the traditional Swedish midsummer with dancing around the penis* and having a beer with some lovely food haha.
What jar of sill is the Pavey selection – mustard, that extra rotten kind, something else?
Mustard sill all the way
Kenny, it has been an absolute pleasure, cheers!
* Many readers will read about the penis and maybe think “those Swedes are always at it!” And then maybe they’ll be confused for a moment. To help you: at Midsommar (a Swedish holiday) the Swedes will get together for a party which includes a load of booze and food. In the afternoon they will dance around a pole, a bit like the English maypole, where it’s a symbol of fertility with the pole having phallic symbolism.
Andy Hudson – July 2011
This interview first appeared on The Ball Is Round website.