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Tottenham’s Robert Vilahamn on the FA Cup semi-final, working with Ange and the importance of being brave

The importance of being brave is weaved into the very fabric of Tottenham Hotspur.

“Audere est Facere” or “To Dare is to Do” is a phrase emblazoned across Spurs kits, merchandise and much of the £1bn stadium.

Synonymous with Bill Nicholson’s famous echo of glory quote, the idea of being brave in the pursuit of success is a maxim that Spurs have always tried to commit to.

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Legendary Tottenham manager, Bill Nicholson

The summer of 2023 marked the start of a new direction for the club. Since his arrival last July, Ange Postecoglou has dominated Premier League discourse.

His new-look side have far exceeded expectations and are expected to battle for a Champions League position right until the final day.

Less than a week after Postecoglou’s arrival, another new Tottenham manager was appointed.

Arriving from BK Häcken in Sweden, Robert Vilahamn was announced as the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur FC Women.

Spurs Women coach Robert Vilahamn arrives

By February, Vilahamn’s Spurs had accumulated more points in the WSL than during the entirety of last season.

They have impressed in the FA Cup too, advancing to face Leicester City in the semi-finals after beating Manchester City earlier this month.

The Sports Gazette sat down with the Tottenham boss to discuss his playing career, his academy in Uganda and the importance of being brave.

Changing course

Football was always the plan for Robert, his older brother Fredrik played professionally across Europe and made three appearances for Sweden.

Robert wasn’t bad himself either.

“I always wanted to be a professional footballer abroad, I was playing for IFK Göteborg at an early age, and I was in the youth national team.”

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The training ground of IFK Göteborg, one of Sweden’s most successful clubs

The dream wasn’t to be though, with Robert admitting that he struggled with the demands of a professional footballer’s lifestyle.

“I was the player that you don’t really like to have… I didn’t eat good food; I was out partying.

“I was a huge talent, but I was not very mature.”

At the age of 23, Robert instead turned to coaching and has not looked back since.

“The aim was to do what I didn’t do as a player…  I treated it like some kind of revenge.”

Gothenburg to London

This desire to prove himself as a coach eventually earned Robert the manager position at BK Häcken FF in 2022, where he helped the club reach multiple domestic finals as well as qualification for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

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Robert managing BK Häcken FF against Benfica in the Women’s Champions League

Whilst the dream of playing abroad did not come true, Robert was offered the opportunity to manage abroad when Tottenham came calling in 2023, and so he swapped Gothenburg for London.

The difference in scale was immediately apparent to him.

“Women’s football in Sweden is absolutely for real but it is smaller. Here you understand how big it is and how many people you can affect,” he said.

Such a transition was not easy at first, but thankfully Robert wasn’t the only new manager at Tottenham.


“It can be quite lonely coming in as a foreigner, you don’t speak the language so good, and you want to speak the way you want to play,” Robert said.

“When I felt like Ange is actually doing the same stuff, he’s speaking about the same things that I want to do…it felt like I had someone on my side.”

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Ange Postecoglou watches on as Spurs Women play Arsenal

It’s easy to see similarities between Postecoglou and Vilahamn.

Bravery on the ball, high pressing and a style that persists no matter the opponent form the basis of both footballing philosophies.

Just watch Matilda Vinberg’s debut goal to see how similar the styles can be.

“I see how they play and how he [Postecoglou] is so good with media, how he’s so good with the players and how he’s so brave in his decisions,” Robert said.

“This makes me think yeah, I’m going to be brave. I’m going to do this because I feel like we do this together.”

The Vilahamn Soccer Academy

In 2016, whilst he was coach of Örgryte IS u19’s, Robert travelled to Uganda to dispel some misconceptions.

“When you talk about Africa and people not going to Africa… that made me interested because when I was there, they were so happy and so friendly,” he said.

This prompted the beginning of the Vilahamn Soccer Academy, a project designed with the vision that all children should have the opportunity to share in the joy of football.

Two players at the Vilahamn Soccer Academy

“It’s so easy for me to use my network with football clubs, equipment, companies who want to sponsor.

Whatever happens in life, you don’t know, but that’s my happy place.”

Success on the pitch

The Spurs dugout must be another one of those happy places, there have been plenty of highs for Robert in his brief time as Tottenham boss.

Victory in a penalty shootout against favourites Manchester City earned his side a first ever appearance in the semi-final stage of the competition.

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Amy James-Turner’s winning penalty puts Tottenham in the semi-final of the Women’s FA Cup

“When we reached the semi-final, I felt closer to the dream for the future, I felt we are now actually getting closer to a title.”

The semi-final will be hosted at the 62,850 capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Spurs a win away from Wembley.

Despite this achievement, Robert’s personal highlight was another moment, earlier in the season.

“When we won against Arsenal, we were actually at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time with fans.

“That was the highlight, we won the North London Derby at our stadium and the atmosphere was so amazing and the happiness was so great.”

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Martha Thomas celebrates as she scores a historic goal against Arsenal

To Dare is to Do

Robert’s side may not win silverware this season and there is a chance that they will not even make it to Wembley.

After all, the women’s team have never got to this stage before.

Should they beat Leicester City, they will either face the ever-dominant Chelsea or a Manchester United side that beat them 4-0 in December.

A daunting prospect for a Spurs team that only avoided relegation by seven points last year, but one that Robert Vilahamn’s team will relish.


  • Ed Dowling

    Ed is an Editor at the Sports Gazette. A much-maligned Tottenham fan, he mainly talks and writes about football in England and abroad. He is also a Senior Reporter for Nigeria's biggest sports radio station, Brila FM.