There was a time when Swedish footballer-slash-businessman John Guidetti was one of the most promising forwards in the world. In an exclusive chat, the 30-year-old striker also told me about the top clubs who were ready to sign him at the age of 20 after he was scoring almost a goal per game for Feyenoord in the Netherlands’ top division.
Currently playing for Swedish first-division side AIK Fotbol, Guidetti suffered an injury during his ascent. Doctors said he would not return, but he did, going on to play in major tournaments and scoring at elite level against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Inter Milan. Now he is keen to take his experiences in sports further by developing a platform to help people live a healthy lifestyle.
From the sounds of it, the former Manchester City, Celta Vigo, and Alavés forward, to name three, have their sights set on a saturated market where it is very difficult to stand out. For her, this isn’t necessarily the case, realizing that most companies aren’t coming up with the right way to live a healthy life. He thinks he has found a place after coming to terms with his wife Drishti.
While he’s on the field at soccer, the platform he’s working on — called Go — isn’t for players alone. As the world tunes in to the World Cup, nutrition and conditioning could prove the difference between victory and defeat, but for him, it’s about everyone—from athletes to people working nine-to-five jobs. Guidance wants to make a healthy and happy life stress-free for the general public. A passionate, family-oriented character, it is one of his inspirations alongside football and supports his foundation in Kenya, where he spent a large part of his childhood.
“We were looking at all the (health and lifestyle) apps out there,” Guidetti begins. “Men often use them but won’t go around saying they do because counting calories is a bit of an embarrassment to them for whatever reason. And then you see women using it, but they can’t tell anyone.” Because it is embarrassing and also it can bring mind games.
“People will say: ‘I had pizza yesterday. Now I can’t because I have to put in 1,800 calories. It’s going to depress me. I’m going to feel bad.’
“We say: ‘You can eat unhealthy sometimes. After that it’s not good not to eat for a whole day.'”
In many ways, the concept defies the Standard Model. Despite playing professionally, it is refreshing to hear about health from a personal perspective of a sportsperson and not made up of rigid thinking and dodging calories at all costs – which can be a burden for many. Instead, the app is tailored to each individual’s purposes, striking back against the idea that there’s only one way to be super fit.
According to Guideti, following 85% of the lifestyle suggestions will make a difference in getting people to buy into the concept, regardless of their motive. In other words, it’s a friendly ally instead of breathing down your neck and celebrating delicious and healthy food. A professional chef, top nutritionists and technical experts have joined forces to create the ingredients.
“We want it to be the best,” he says, talking about the app he and his team are developing. “A lot of people go on dieting apps two months before the wedding thinking they need to fit into a dress or dress up for summer. And they’ll kill it for two months, but it’s not sustainable.
“What we want to achieve is something you can live with for the rest of your life. You can go back to it anytime. We understand people are going to be people. Even with the players—on Friday, After winning a match, I can have pizza, and why should I be embarrassed about it?
Launching in January, the service will include healthy and tasty recipes for users to follow. There are also plans to bring well-known names on board to help connect with the masses and grow the brand. The idea was born out of soccer—from which he says “everything good” in his life has come in one way or another.
A lot has changed since he was a youngster, with many top clubs more cautious than ever when it comes to nutrition and some are lucky enough to have professional personal chefs. But, according to the guide, dietitians don’t come to your home. And more broadly, accessible tools are key. In my native Sweden, many people like to track their health, and one of the popular options available is fitness platform Strava – co-founded by a Swede, Michael Horvath.
The Go brand hopes to stand out. And as well as serving a function, the venture shows something of the Swedish football genius behind it. Although not entirely successful with Premier League juggernaut Manchester City, Guidetti’s patience has resulted in an admirable career, particularly in Spain with Celta Vigo. During its three-year spell, it competed well against financially better-off sides such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, while nearly reaching the final of the Europa League.
Professionally and business wise, he is a fighter.
“I’m always striving to be the best version of myself. And it’s the same thing with business. If I want to do something, I want to do something that strives to be the best,” continues the striker, who Shouting out for the Golden Boy award in 2013.
“I’ve always wanted to make good investments, but I’m never going to sell things I value or things that I think are important for money. For example, let’s say this new cigarette brand offers you to come and help you with your investment.” €10 million ($10 million) to do it. That’s a lot of money. I respect money, because it’s something you can’t take lightly.
“But at the same time, I’m not going to support something I don’t stand behind 110%, no matter what it pays me.”
Guidetti and his team are currently working on the technical side of the brand. There are plans to engage in business-for-business deals with football clubs and other organisations, but this is something he wants to magnify. For starters, it will launch in most EU countries.
“We have seen that, with a good diet, you can live longer and feel better mentally. And that helps people in a good way,” he remarked.
As world football’s interest in Qatar soars, that philosophy inspires the Scandinavian player while he builds his business remotely.