Signed by Colin Harvey for £400,000 in the summer of 1989, Stefen Rehn was seen as the long-term replacement for midfield legend Peter Reid. Unfortunately for Everton, Harvey and Rehn, the move quickly turned sour, the Swede finding himself out of his depth in England’s top flight and with just six Everton appearances to his name he quickly returned to his native Sweden.
Rehn joined Everton at a difficult time. The Blues were going through a period of transition, with several big name players, players who had become legends over the previous three and four season, moving away from Goodison for fresh and new challenges. Colin Harvey was striving to build a new team that would once again challenge at the top of the table, but the squad had become divided and divisive, with several of the Championship winning team unwilling to accept new players into the fold.
Rehn, a ball playing midfield player struggled with the competitive nature of the English game. Remember this was a time long before the Premier League, the influx of foreign players and the crackdown on rough tackling. Rehn, like Reid before him, lacked any pace, but whereas Reid was able to make up for his failing with energy, commitment and an excellent reading of the game, Rehn was just not in the same class. It wasn’t a huge surprise when Harvey and the club decided to cut their losses after just one season, with Rehn joining IFK Göteborg, where he enjoyed a hugely successful career.
So what became of the first foreign player (if you discount South African born David Murray, who played for Everton in the 1920’s, but had a British heritage) to play for the club. Rehn established himself as a central figure in the Swedish national team, representing his country on 45 occasions and playing in two World Cups. During his time with IFK Göteborg he picked up 5 Championship medals and was a regular competitor in the European Cup/Champions League, scoring at the Camp Nou against Barcelona and producing a Man of the Match performance as the Swedes knocked Manchester United out of the competition.
After further spells with Swiss side FC Lausanne Sport and a return to his first club Djurgårdens IF of Sweden, Rehn hung up his boots and immediately moved into coaching. It wasn’t long before he was offered the top job at former club IFK Göteborg and in 2007 in began his managerial career at one of Sweden’s biggest and second most successful club. The club was in the midst of a baron spell and the former Everton man was unable to change their fortunes, finishing 3rd, 2nd and then 7th, which ultimately cost him his job, when he was relieved from his duties at the end of the 2009-10 season.
The Stefen Rehn story ends rather unexpectedly, with a significant and unusual career shift. A desire to remain in football and coaching, led him to take over top Women’s side Jitex BK where he remains to this day. Despite the appointment of the hugely experienced Rehn, Jitex have struggled in the Swedish topflight, narrowly avoiding relegation in each of the three seasons Rehn has been in charge.