Born to a German father, he played as a midfielder and a left-back. He started playing football at youth level in Kulladals FF and began his career at his hometown club Malmö FF. In 1990 he played as a youth player in Leverkusen before moving on to Benfica where he played from 1990 to 1994. He also played for Arsenal, Fiorentina, Valencia and Sunderland. The most prestigious award he received was Guldbollen, 1999, as Sweden's best footballer during that year. However, his playing career ended on a low note in 2003, when he retired at the end of a season where Sunderland (who had finished seventh in his first two seasons there) were relegated from the Premier League with a mere four wins, 19 points and 21 goals to their name.