Antonsson months in the making

Swedish marksman Marcus Antonsson may have signed with the Red & Black at the end of June, but in many ways his transfer was more than six months in the making.

At the start of the year the 32-year-old was coming off his best ever season, where he scored the second most goals in Sweden’s top division, with 20 goals in 30 games for IFK Värnamo.

His performances garnered interest from both the Wanderers, as well as a club in Saudi Arabia, and the Swede says he had positive talks with the club.

“We were in contact already in January actually and I got a really good impression of him (coach Marko Rudan), we had a really good conversation”, Antonsson said.

Whilst Antonsson opted to play at Saudi side Al-Adalah – partly due to his fiance’s continuing studies in Sweden – two events would eventually conspire to bring Antonsson and the Wanderers together.

One was the departure of Tunisian forward Amor Layouni in the offseason, and the other was Al-Adalah’s relegation from the Saudi Arabian top flight, despite Antonsson scoring a respectable 6 goals in 16 games.

“I was in Saudi for six months, and the last game in Saudi (Arabia) was if we win the game, we stay in the league and I have one more year contract, and if we lose we were relegated. So that’s when I ended up in Sydney and I’m really happy for that.

“(I’d) actually been following Western Sydney’s results and had some conversations with Marko the coach here, and when we were relegated in Saudi and the contract expired I felt straightaway that I wanted to come here.”

It is a big move for Antonsson, who before his Saudi Arabian sojourn had spent the majority of his career in his native Sweden as well as a three year stint in England.

Malmo’s Swedish forward Marcus Antonsson celebrates their victory with his fans at the end of the UEFA Europa League Group I football match between Besiktas JK and Malmo FF at the Vodafone Park stadium in Istanbul on December 13, 2018. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

After spending five seasons at Halmstads BK, he joined Kalmar FF, where he had two strong seasons, scoring 25 goals.

His form earned him a move to EFL Championship side Leeds United, but the striker freely admits his time in England was relatively unsuccessful.

“My time at Leeds was not very successful. I had a couple of early injuries, or one injury that stopped me a little bit. Then next season I went on loan to Blackburn Rovers, where I had a very good time. The first six months that was amazing, scoring goals and [getting] assists, then [I got] another injury in the middle of the season.”

He returned to Sweden and powerhouse club Malmo in an attempt to kick start his career; after strong goal returns in his first two seasons, his time at Malmo petered out and he went on two loan spells to rival clubs in the Allsvenskan.

This led to his move to Värnamo, where he took the league by storm in 2022 with his electric form in front of goal, and he is now looking to replicate that form for his new club, where he has been welcomed by his teammates and staff.

“From my first step into the dressing room it felt really easy with the boys, very welcoming, and also from the staff from everybody in the club. So that part has been easy.

“It’s also always about adapting quick to get into the rhythm with training after a long flight from Sweden, so I think my first impressions is very good.”

He made his debut off the bench in the sides 6-1 win in the Australia Cup over Floreat Athena, and he is aiming to build on the strong season the club had in 2022/23.

“It’s going to be an amazing year,I’m sure of it. I’ve not been training for a long time with the team, but I still see the quality.

“We have high demands on each other and the coach as well, so we’re gonna push everyday here and do our best to win the title.”