Gustaf Persson (1993) – He was our number 1, but has gone to the bench recently. Gustaf is one of our really young players. He’s a 1993 which means he’s either 18 or 19. I don’t really see him ever outside of soccer, but his locker is next to mine so we talk from time to time. He’s still in high school as well, so he has to do that before training. But, as he told me, “I don’t like that place [high school] so much,” so he never goes.
Markus Hedstrom (1986) – At the moment he is our #1. I literally know nothing about Markus other than he’s one of the only players on the team old enough to grow facial hair and that he looks like Albert Einstein.
Philip Zamayeri (1990) – Right back. Philip is a jokester and has fun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him yell at anyone or get angry. When I met him, the first thing he asked me was if I would be offended/annoyed by his constant joking. I told him no and he’s been cracking jokes ever since.
Adem Kucukgol (1989) – Right Back. Adem is what you would call the team clown. I mean that in the most complimentary, least condescending way. He’s our 3rd choice right back, something akin to being a backup punter. Despite the prospect of maybe never playing, he keeps a borderline wacky demeanor and is a favorite amongst the players. Adem has previously played at higher levels with Hammarby and a few other clubs I don’t know. He was actually at Hammarby at the same time as Charlie Davies. The last thing about Adem is that he drives 100km each way to training every day. I think that’s crazy.
Robert Kjellman (1992) – Center Back. Robert is one of the people I spend the most time with outside of training. That’s in part because only about half the team even lives in Enkoping. Like I’ve mentioned before, Robert loves to play the guitar and sing. We tease him a bit about it, but it’s a pretty good talent to be able to play guitar. He has a younger brother who plays for the Atletico Madrid reserve team. Robert is a good guy and one of my closest friends on the team.
Heradi Simba (1988) – Center back. I don’t have much to say about Heradi. He’s one of the only other black guys on the team, but other than that I don’t know anything notable about him. He lives in Balsta, which is about halfway from Enkoping to Stockholm. He also has a brother on the team, Mtaka.
Dillon Ismail (1992) – Center back. Another guy whose background I know nothing about. I know he used to play at Sirius, a club near the top of the table of our league. I don’t even know where he lives, but I know it’s not Enkoping. If I learn more about him maybe I’ll update this, for the for the sake of this blog that’s not necessary at the moment.
Kevin Sharro (1994) – Left Back. Kevin is another one of the babies in our team. He’s in a similar position to Adem in terms of playing opportunities, but at his young age that’s not really a huge concern. When I was Kevin’s age I was 4 years away from my first professional game. He’s also a neighbor of mine in the locker room. Between him and Gustaf I feel like Father Time!
Micael Tuhkanen (1990) – Left back. Mica is kind of a strange character. He’s a really nice person, but I’ve only heard him talk like two or three times ever. He comes off as a bit of a loner. I think he just is not much of a talker, which betrays the fact that he’s actually really easy to get along with. He lives in Enkoping, but I get the feeling that if I saw him walking in town he wouldn’t even acknowledge me. Don’t expect to hear too much about him in this blog.
Rasmus Fries (1992) – Winger/Left Back. I’ve included Rasmus as a midfielder, but he splits time between winger and outside back. Rasmus is one of the fastest guys on the team, along with me and Heradi. I know nothing about his personal life, except that he lives in a really small town about 20 minutes from Enkoping.
Tom Noden (1989) – Our captain. Center Mid. Tom is a very level-headed guy. He gets along with everyone and works hard everyday. He’s not your typical captain, meaning he isn’t a very vocal guy, but he sets more of an example. I think his young age might have something to do with that. Nobody wants to hear a 22-year-old telling them what to do, even if you’re 17- or 18-years-old. He’s the right choice as the captain though. He does a good job. He’s spent a few games as a right back as well.
Linus Bylin (1990) – Center Mid. For me, Linus and Tom are linked in my head. For every preseason game and the first couple regular season games, they played next to each other in the middle of midfield. Linus has been on the A-team for ESK for five years, making him the elder statesman of the team even though he’s only 21 or 22. In fact, Linus is the only person other than the front office staff that has a key to the locker room.
Kerim Mrabti (1994) – Center Mid/Winger. The baby of the team. Kerim is freaking 17-years-old and one of our best players. He, like Gustaf and Kevin (and maybe Joel), is still in high school. He’s another winger and has started every game. He’s a local kid and has played his whole career with ESK from the time he was a little kid.
Alex Persson-Njie (1991) – Center Mid. Another local talent. I don’t know where he spent his entire youth career, but I know that he did play for a time with the youth teams of ESK before signing for the A-team. He played a big role in the promotion last season, but hasn’t played as much this year. Even though he lives in Enkoping, I rarely see Alex in the town.
Emil Strok (1986) – Center Mid. Emil is a player that I first met on the Turkey trip. He’s kind of a strange player; sometimes he can’t trap a ball, other times he’s a midfield maestro. We get along well, but he’s pretty quiet and doesn’t say too much. He lives in Enkoping and I see him occasionally, but we don’t really hangout outside of training.
Mtaka Simba (1986) – Center Mid/Winger. Mtaka is one of the guys who has played 3-4 positions this year. He prefers to play as a center mid though. Mtaka is one of my closest friends on the team, in part because we were roommates in Turkey and we play the same position so we train together quite often. He lives in Balsta, the biggest town between Enkoping and Stockholm. Also, he is the older brother of Heradi.
Ernesto Ferreira (1980) – Attacking Mid. ‘Nesto’ as he’s called, signed with us on the last possible day. He hadn’t trained with us at all at that point, but he did play with ESK last year. Ernesto is originally from Portugal and he played there for Boavista. He’s been in Sweden six years now because he has a girlfriend here (or actually in Uppsala, about 30 minutes to the northeast), but he doesn’t speak a word of Swedish haha. Ernesto and I agree on a lot of things soccer-wise, so we get along quite well. We also both hate the cold weather, so that bonds us a bit.
Daniel Alund (1992) – Attacking Mid. One of my best friends on the team along with Robert (and Fabian, though he’s not exactly on the team). I’ve already profiled him so this will be a recap. He went to Holland at 15 to play for the youth and reserve teams at Feyenord. He also had trials at Manchester United and Fulham among other clubs. He trained with AIK, the biggest club in Sweden, last year and is still being tracked by them.
Alexander Alan (1985) – Attacking Mid. He goes by his last name ‘Alan’ and is one of my favorite guys on the team, even if I don’t see him much outside of training. I feel like I’ve known Alan for years, but that’s mostly because he looks exactly like a guy I went to college with. I mean an uncanny resemblance. Alan reminds me a lot of the typical USL guy, meaning he doesn’t really harbor grand dreams about being a star in Allsvenskan, but instead has staked out a little niche in Division 1 and is happy there. He, like most of the players on our team, has a day job so soccer is more of a fun thing to do than a livelihood. That’s not to say that he or USL guys don’t take their job seriously or professionally, it just means that they have other, sometimes greater, priorities.
Joel Rajalakso (1993) – Pronounced ‘Euell’, Joel is another young guy. I’m not sure if he’s still in high school or not. Last season he scored 14 goals in Division 2, a very impressive total considering the season was only 26 games. He has a brother playing in Allsvenskan for Djugarden. His brother is a winger, so I can’t imagine that the brothers’ playing styles are too similar. Joel is what a call a ruthless striker. He’s hellbent on scoring goals and often does. It would be interesting to see him play side-by-side with Erik, but we’ll see if that happens.
Erik Andersson (1987) – Erik is your prototypical striker. Big, strong, good in the air and reasonably fast, he has all the attributes most coaches look for in a striker. In fact, with him being 24-25 I’m surprised no Allsvenskan team has come for his signature. I know for a fact that half the teams in MLS would be willing to pay good money to have him in their team. I’ve never asked him about why he’s stayed in the lower divisions, but I assume it’s just lack of opportunity. Maybe in that way Sweden doesn’t differ all that much from America.