IN the land of Ikea, another ex-York City coach is beginning to build a burgeoning reputation as a promising manager.

Following in the footsteps of former City under-14s manager Graham Potter, one-time Bootham Crescent academy technical director Adie Costello is now starting to make waves in Swedish football.

Costello has just won a prestigious award in his first season as a professional boss having narrowly missed out on guiding unfashionable Ytterhogdals IK into the country’s third tier.

The newly-promoted minnows, with a population of 600, had started the campaign as cast-iron favourites to return to the fourth strata of Swedish football but the club’s subsequent odds-defying campaign saw them crowned the Jamtland and Harjedalens region’s Team of the Year for 2018.

Costello’s men beat off the challenge of 62 other clubs to receive that honour, including last year’s winners Ostersunds who, under Potter, also rose from the realms of lower-league Scandinavian football to win top-flight promotion, the national cup final and beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the last 32 of the Europa League.

That achievement earned Potter a move to Championship outfit Swansea over the summer and former policeman Costello, the brother of 1980s’ City winger Nigel, is making a name for himself on overseas shores too.

On receiving the accolade and surprising everyone with the side’s progress, Costello said: “There were 400 people at the awards night and to win it was a big honour.

“Our chairman was nearly in tears. He’s 74 years old and still works for the Swedish FA, but his team had never won it.

“It was our first season at that level and we were odds-on with Bet 365 to get relegated.

“Everybody had us written off and one of the sports writers, who actually ended up voting for us as Team of the Year, said we would be relegated because he couldn’t see where the goals were going to come from.

“We took eight points from the first eight games and were third-bottom but, then, we turned it around and we were fighting for promotion on the last day of the season and still had a chance of going up.

“We were third for most of the season and won 11 games on the trot.

“We were absolutely flying by the end of the season and also ended up scoring 61 times. The chairman’s target was to stay up and he would have been happy to finish third-bottom.

“He hoped we could consolidate and see what the league was like, because we’re a village of 600 people and we’re two hours from anywhere. It’s not like North Ferriby, who have Hull on their doorstep, and we play against some big towns, who have populations of 60,000.”

Potter agreed to help a grateful Costello during the first six months of this year prior to the former’s Championship chance, with the latter adding: “I spoke to Graham and asked him to be my mentor because he had been through the Swedish divisions and got to the top.

“He helped me understand the philosophy of Swedish football and was still in touch with me right up to the point he left for Swansea and that link with Ostersunds has carried on as we’ll be playing them in their big dome for a pre-season friendly and they also keep tabs on our players.”

Costello, whose managerial opportunities in England were limited to stints with Hull City Ladies, York City Ladies and Garforth Town, now has ambitions, at the age of 53, to emulate Potter and take charge at the highest level in the Swedish game, although he accepts that will not be with his current club.

“If we went up to division one (the third tier), everything does change in terms of ground grading and you need to build more disabled viewing areas and toilets, but we want to get there,” the ex-North Ferriby, Lincoln, Hull and City academy coach pointed out. “That would then be our ceiling as a club.

“That’s the reality. We’re pulling in supporters from about an hour away in all directions, but we cannot attract a big enough crowd to go beyond division one.

“Just being at that level, though, would be absolutely unbelievable. Personally, I’d love to manage at the top level in Sweden - I really, really would.

“It wouldn’t be with Ytterhogdals and, coaching at the highest levels, is all about getting opportunities. But people here ask me why I have come to Sweden and I tell them because I wouldn’t get this chance in the UK.”

Costello left his most recent post with the Minstermen, as the head of the successful Regional Talent Club girls’ football programme, this time last year to pursue his managerial dream.

But his links with Bootham Crescent remain strong and recent discussions have taken place with current Minstermen chief Sam Collins about the possibility of loaning younger players for the next Swedish season, which will kick off in April after the players have reported back for training two months earlier.

Equally, Ytterhogdals could be used as a second-chance destination for any released City scholars to explore an alternative route into the professional game, as York-born Jamie Hopcutt managed spectacularly under Potter at Ostersunds.

“I have been to see Sam (Collins) and we’ve already started a dialogue in terms of looking at City players, with the view to taking at least one on loan next season,” Costello pointed out.

One former City schoolboy player Alex McMillan, meanwhile, is already a member of Costello’s squad.

After being released by Grimsby, where he served his apprenticeship, McMillan broke into Ytterhogdals’ first team at the end of last season and has agreed terms for the new campaign.

McMillan’s father – City legend Andy - has visited Costello and was reported as being surprised with the standard of football on show whilst, off the pitch, new players are all based together in the same accommodation block and the squad train on a full-time basis.

With such a sparse catchment area, Costello will continue to scour the market back home and in other European countries for untapped talent and, on the recruitment of McMillan and others, he pointed out: “Alex is absolutely committed to becoming a professional footballer and those are the kind of people we want to attract, not those with talent who don’t have that attitude.

“He always wants to do extra work in the gym and often asks for a bag of balls, so he can work on his passing and receiving. He’s coming on leaps and bounds and has gone from Grimsby under-18s to men’s football and is holding his own.

“He’s been a full back before, like his dad, but we’ve been playing him as a wing-back because he’s very quick going forward. We’ve already strengthened for next season and started our recruitment early.

“We also got all the existing players we wanted to keep contracted before they went away for their break. We’ve got a young lad Peter Smith who has spent the last three years at Wolves and a goalkeeper who was at PSV Eindhoven and played Dutch reserve football before having a spell in Italy.

“We’ve got a very young team and last season the average age was about 20.”

Costello is now preparing for pre-season, which he approaches with a refreshing lack of convention, explaining: “We like to make sure we are ready for all scenarios and we will be asking some teams to let us play with ten men against their 11, so we have experience of what it is like to cope with a sending off.”