Seattle Sounders FC made it official this morning, announcing the signing of former Arsenal great Freddie Ljungberg as their Designated Player for their inaugural MLS campaign.
Here’s part of his opening statement and answer to a question from today’s press conference:
"I want to mostly say that I’m really happy to be here. I feel so welcomed by everybody, walking around the city a little bit, and all the people here. Especially when I spoke to you all, the interest of soccer they have in this region of the U.S., we talked about it. You see it here already how many tickets are sold, and we haven’t even started playing yet. For me, that’s a major thing. If I’m going somewhere, I want people to be affected about it and have an interest in what I’m doing and what we’re doing. For me, that’s very important. I’m spending a lot of time with these guys here, and talked about the future and everything around the city, and everything they want to do, and it feels really great. I’m really happy to be here. I hope it works out well."
(On his health)
"I feel very good. Last season I had small injuries in the fall, and after Christmas, I felt very good. The only problem was someone jumped on my rib cage, and I cracked a rib at the end of the season. I played in the Euro’s and I feel great. During this little break I’ve had, I’ve been training quite hard to keep fit. It all feels good."
(On European reaction of the signing…)
"Of course there will be mixed reactions. I know how it works. When David (Beckham) went to the MLS, and how the Europeans see the MLS that maybe the league is not that great. I think that isn’t true. Now David may be gone to Milan for a stop. I think in Europe we look at, if he can crack it in Milan; he’s still doing very well, and shows that MLS is a good level if he can do that. Me personally, I’m coming here because I want to play football, and I see this as a great experience. I want to make this league better and develop it, like all these guys here want to do as well. I’ve had three months to think about my future a lot. I wanted to feel the reaction from people around me about the MLS, and people then said, ‘you should stay three more years at least in England or in Europe to play in the top flight, and not go already to the MLS’. For me, I felt if I was going to do this, it’s a sincere thing, and really help the people over here with soccer, I should go now. I shouldn’t go in three years time when I’m past my peak. I feel really happy to be here."
More details at the Sounders website.