Swedish football players in the UK: We talked to Watford’s Ken Sema

Nov 27, 2020 by

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Ken Sema is the Swedish football player whom currently plays as a midfielder in Watford FC. He started his journey on the football field when he was only five years old in the Swedish team IF Sylvia. His breakthrough came when he played for Ljungskile 2014-2016, and after that, he has played in Allsvenskan, Premier League, EFL Championship, the Italian league Serie A and he is currently playing in Sweden’s National Team.

We got to chat to Ken in connection with him donating a signed Sweden football shirt in our raffle. We talked to him about his career so far, his best football memories and current life in London.


Hi Ken and welcome to the UK 🙂 Where do you currently live when you are here?
Hej och tack! I actually haven’t been able to find a place to live in England yet, so right now I live in a hotel a little bit outside London, in Watford. It is a very nice hotel, though. But I am hoping to find a good place where I can live permanently very soon.


What would you say is the best in your area? 
The combination of lockdown and living in a hotel equals not going out so much. I am going for walks daily though, and as far as I have seen, there is some really great nature in the area.

Although the situation is as it is, I can not complain at all. The hotel is amazing, and despite corona, I am having a really good time.


Ken with his teammates in Watford FC. Photo: Alan Cozzi 


How do you handle the current lockdown-situation in London? 
The thing is that we still play games and exercise per our usual schedule, so I can not say that the difference is that big from when everything is normal. I play football and go home, or to the hotel since that is where I live now. That is basically how life looks when you play football at this level, haha!


What is the best part about playing in your current team, Watford?
Before Watford, I played in Sweden and their top league, Allsvenskan. To go from that to Premier League in England, where Watford played last season, was amazing. This season we are in Championship, the second tier of English football, which is also very qualitative. We have a great team, amazing fans and a wonderful stadium. There is nothing to complain about.


I am truly thankful for being able to do this. Not everyone gets the chance, and I am enjoying it every single day to play in such a good club.


Photo: Alan Cozzi 


Play with the thought that you are football-free for an entire weekend. How do you spend it? 
We never are… haha! We have a lot of practices and games, so we almost never have an entire weekend off. But if I would and if lockdown was not… hmm. I would probably spend it with my girlfriend and my friends, going into the city for shopping and some good food at a nice restaurant.


… and which restaurants would that be?
I really enjoy Hakkasan and Novikov. They are a little bit pricey but the food makes it totally worth it!


Do you live your dream right now, and what aspirations do you have?
I am definitely living my dream. It is so cool to wake up every day, knowing that I am going to play football. I do not see it as a job; it is my lifestyle. I love this.

I will always have goals and dreams; you will always have more. That makes you continue fighting and never give up. But I am thrilled with what I have achieved so far.


Ken and Watford in a game against Stoke City. Photo: Alan Cozzi


Who is your biggest inspiration in football?
My older brother. He played football as well, and when I was younger, I always looked up to him. Also, I have always watched big players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Christiano Ronaldo, how they play and how they develop, but my big brother has always been my number one.


How does it affect you to play without a crowd during corona?
At the beginning of corona, it felt very different, not hearing sound and cheers. You are so used to play for a filled stadium, hearing fans screaming and do cheers for us as a team. And suddenly it was all empty, of course, it felt weird at first. Now, I am starting to get used to it, kind of…  It is what it is; you have to accept it for now.


During the past year, you have been playing in Udinese. What are the differences between England and Italy? Both when it comes to football and just life in general?
Yes, for a season. It was good, they are good. I got to play a lot. Also, I learnt a new language and lived in a different culture. Italy is very easy going, they grab the day and live it for what it is. It felt a bit like I was on vacation, haha. You know, good food and sunny weather all the time…


When it comes to England, everything is a bit more like Sweden. More rules to follow, basically. Playing football against English teams is more physical, the game is faster. Italy is focusing more on the technical parts. The difference made it a very good experience for me – but I like it both ways. Football is football.


Ken playing with Watford against Chelsea. Photo: Alan Cozzi


You’re also a part of the Swedish national team and the upcoming Championship, how much of your time will you be spending in Sweden during coming months?
Yeah, it is so cool to be a part of the Swedish national team, it has been a dream since I was little. An honour, of course. Hopefully, there will be a European Championship this summer, and I will be joining it with the rest of the team so of course, we need to train together for it.


I will be in Sweden as much as I can and when it fits with my schedule here in England. I want to go there to hang out with family and friends as much as I can, of course. But exactly how much is hard to say, especially with lockdown and the schedule over here. Det blir som det blir. This whole year has been som special. You have to take the day as it comes, and do the best you can out of every situation.


Tell us about your best football-memory!
Shit, haha. I have so many, from playing in Sweden. But if I have to choose one, I think it would be when I played with Östersund in the Europa League. We played against Arsenal, the game was 2-0 and I scored. That is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.


It is so special, because people who see me on TV now and the ones who know me, they also remember that goal in that game. It was a huge thing for me to do that goal, in that game and against that team.


But I have many amazing memories. I scored in Premier League, played in the Swedish Olympic team in Brazil, which is extremely cool for me. I have also won the Swedish Cup with Östersund… Yeah. I have a few and I hope that there will be more. That is my goal.