by Chipp Reid

Swedish football honored its best in November with its annual star-studded Football Gala.
In what has become almost a foregone conclusion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic won the Golden Ball as the male player of the year for a fourth straight year. The 28-year-old Barcelona star helped Inter Milan win the Italian championship and led the Serie A in scoring with 25 goals in 2008-09.
Linköping midfielder Caroline Seger took home the Diamond Ball as the female player of the year. Seger, 26, helped lead Linköping to its first-ever Damallsvenskan championship and has become a mainstay in the center of the Swedish national team.
American soccer fans can only see ZLatan on TV or if they decide to vacation in Spain. They can see Seger, however, next year when the captain of the Swedish national women’s team suits up for the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer circuit.
“I am very happy to have agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Independence. It is extremely exciting to have been selected No. 1 in the International Draft, and know that next year I will be playing in one of, if not the best, leagues in the world,” Seger told the Independence Web site. “I look forward to putting on the Independence jersey along with my teammates and go out and represent the Independence, the community, and the fans.”
Seger finished the season with five goals and five assists as she helped guide Linköping to the 2009 Princess Victoria trophy. Linköping battled Umeå IK all season for the title, finally taking over first place in the final month of the season.
The new Damallsvenskan champs raked in the most awards of any club at the ceremony, thanks largely to Seger. The Diamond Ball winner also won the awards for top player in the Damallsvenskan and best midfielder. Linköping manager Magnus Wikman won Coach of the Year honors.

Surprise team of the year honored
Kopparbergs/Göteborg, the surprise team of the 2009 Damallsvenskan, had a pair of players on the podium. Helvig Lindahl won the trophy as top goalkeeper while 21-year-old Linnea Liljegård took home forward of the year and rookie of year honors.
Sara Thunebro won the award as the best defender.
On the men’s side, Ibrahimovic led a roster of familiar names as he won forward of the year for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years. Olof Mellberg won defender of the year for the second-straight time and third time overall and Andreas Isaksson won his fifth goalkeeper of the year award in the last seven years.
New to the podium was Kim Källström. The Olimpique Lyon star won midfielder of the year honors. IFK Göteborg forward Tobias Hysem won Allsvenskan Player of the Year. AIK manager Mikael Stahre won Coach of the Year for guiding the Gnaget to the 2009 title.
The panel of judges voted the goal by Hammarby Emil Johansson against Elfsborg in the season opener on April 4.
Trelleborg forward Victor Noring won rookie of the year for the men.