Fresh from starring for Sweden at the recent FIFA World Cup, Ola Toivonen describes joining Melbourne Victory as the “perfect” next step and exciting adventure in his career.
And the 64-cap international revealed it was a recommendation from former Melbourne City marquee Orlando Engelaar that also played a key role in luring him to the Hyundai A-League.
Toivonen spoke for the first time on Thursday since arriving in Melbourne to take up his two-year deal with the defending Hyundai A-League Champions.
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While he had the option of remaining in France – where he was playing for Toulouse – or seeking a new 'adventure', it was the total package in Melbourne which appealed to the 32-year-old and his family.
“After the World Cup my family and I were thinking about what we should do in the future. There was the option to stay in France or go to the Middle East, go back to Scandinavia or go on an adventure,” Toivonen explained.
“And we decided to go an adventure.
“I’ve got a two-year contract here and I’m really looking forward to the adventure.”
“As I’ve said in a lot of interviews that just because I go on an adventure, I still want to win something. The whole situation was perfect for me.
“The A-League has been stepping up the last couple of years, it’s getting bigger in Europe as well and the interest is increasing.
“To have a chance to play the Asian Champions League as well is also exciting.”
Interestingly, it was a chat with a former member of Victory’s crosstown rivals that helped get the move going.
"We talked about it a little bit and then the contact (with Victory) was there,” the Swedish striker said.
“He [Engelaar] asked if I was interested and I was.
“We didn’t talk much about [the football], we just spoke about the life standard in Australia and that’s it.”
Toivonen says his experience and quality will be the two biggest attributes he’ll bring to Victory and he’s undaunted by the pressure to perform for one of the Hyundai A-League title favourites.
The former PSV attacker started all five games at Russia 2018, scoring a brilliant goal against Germany as Sweden went all the way to the quarter finals.
“The whole experience of the World Cup was something I’m going to take with me for a long time,” the 64-cap international said.
“I’ve managed to play in one Euro [Championships] and one World Cup for Sweden and I’m extremely proud about it.”
Toivonen is one of four impressive new foreign recruits to the Victory squad, joining Japanese legend Keisuke Honda, German defender Georg Niedermeier and Spanish playmaker Raul Baena.
Next week’s training camp on the Sunshine Coast will be the first time coach Kevin Muscat will have his entire squad together as they ramp-up preparations for the new season.
“It’s been a very productive off-season for us. The transformation of where we ended up last season to now has been huge,” Muscat told reporters.
“What we’ve done is created even more flexibility in the front third. He’s [Toivonen] scored goals in his career as we’ve seen in the World Cup but he can also drop deeper and can go into wide areas.
“It just gives us greater depth and flexibility. We’ll go away next week where we can spend some serious time as a group and work on some combinations.”