SANFORD, Fla. — New Orlando City centerback Robin Jansson understands how his story can be inspirational.
The 27-year-old native of Sweden was working in a horseshoe factory to make ends meet just before he got an opportunity to play for Swedish Allsvenskan side AIK last year. He took full advantage of his shot with AIK, starting 25 matches and scoring the match-winning goal for AIK over Kalmar FF to help AIK secure a league title.
“I think it’s a good story,” he said. “To never give up on yourself, to everybody out there, to do what you love, even though maybe sometimes it’s hard or it doesn’t go like you want it to. Then you need to put in the hard work and always trust and believe in yourself. Then, maybe, opportunities like this would come.”
Now he’s in Orlando.
Orlando City announced it had signed him on Tuesday, pending receipt of his international transfer certificate (ITC) and P1 visa, bringing the Sweden native to Central Florida and continuing Jansson’s story.
“It’s a crazy journey,” Jansson said. “It is. But I’m happy to be here and I’m excited to get started.”
Coach James O’Connor said Jansson won’t be available for selection for this weekend’s match against the Montreal Impact. Jansson was at training Wednesday morning. He’s a new centerback on a team that could use some depth at the position with Lamine Sané week-to-week with a calf injury.
“He’s got really good experience,” O’Connor said. “I think he’s someone that’ll obviously help us, so we’re encouraged by the prospect of bringing him in.”
With a laugh, O’Connor added it might take Jansson a little while to acclimate to Florida’s heat.
“He’s someone we’re excited about,” O’Connor said. “I think he’s going to certainly add some quality to our squad.”
O’Connor was impressed with the centerback’s journey.
“You hear some of the different stories around that,” he said. “Even from my time in England, you get players that maybe come into the game late, go on and achieve a lot. It’s a fabulous story, to see him score the game-winning goal, as well. I think there’s so many aspects to it that are really, really nice.”
“I think, again, when you look at his character, when you look at the quality – he’s played for his national team – so when you look at where he sort of begun, and then the steps he was able to make, the process he followed to be able to go on and go from that level all the way to his national team, again you have to be impressed and be full of respect for that,” O’Connor said.
Jansson received his first call-up to Sweden’s national team in January.
“This what I wanted to do and it’s up to me to be good here and do good stuff and develop and get into the game here in the U.S., and then we will see what’s happening with the national team back in Sweden,” he said. “If I [get] called up, I would be proud again.”
Jansson said he hasn’t had too many opportunities to watch MLS.
“There’s some big players coming here, and [Swedish superstar] Zlatan [Ibrahimović] is here and, for sure, I’ve seen some games, but not so many,” Jansson said. “I’ll just look around and see how it is and get comfortable with it.”
Forward Tesho Akindele, who started in Orlando City’s first two matches of the season, will miss Saturday’s game due to a hamstring issue, O’Connor said.
“It looks like he’s got a very … sort of low hamstring issue,” O’Connor said. “I think he’ll be out, certainly, for Saturday.”
When asked about a timeline for Akindele’s return, O’Connor said, “I wish I could say yes. Obviously, we want him back as soon as possible. We’re not 100 percent sure. The hard thing about timelines with stuff like that, everybody’s different.”