By Joey Lynch
Ola Toivonen has been unveiled as the fifth captain in Melbourne Victory history at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The Swedish striker, who is entering his second season in Melbourne, will become the first foreigner in Victory history to wear the armband on a permanent basis in the 2019/20 season, stepping into the void left after the retirement of Carl Valeri at the end of the 2018/19 season.
Toivonen quickly established himself as amongst the league’s best players in his first season in the A-League, finding the back of the net 17 times across all competitions in 26 appearances as well serving as a key facilitator for his teammates in attack.
The 33-year-old will lead a leadership group of club stalwart Leigh Broxham, Thomas Deng, Tim Hoogland and Jakob Poulsen into the coming season, which will be the first under the stewardship of new Head Coach Marko Kurz.
“Firstly, I want to thank the players and coaches for selecting me to captain Melbourne Victory this season,” Toivonen said.
“It’s an honour to have been chosen to lead this club. I loved my first season here and am very proud to now be in this position.
“I’m passionate about achieving success and together with the support of the leadership group in Leigh, Jakob, Tim and Tommy to drive the team to a good place.
“We have put together a tremendous group of players and we are all looking forward to round one next week.”
Kurz had previously hinted at the formation of a leadership group that would help aid his attempts to establish his own mark on Victory after the long stewardship of former coach Kevin Muscat and welcomed the appointment of Toivonen as his first captain.
“Ola will be a fantastic captain of this club, his experience on and off the pitch will be invaluable for our team but the support around him in the leadership group is also really important,” the German gaffer said.
“I was very happy to see Leigh, Thomas, Tim and Jakob selected in the leadership group to work alongside Ola.
“We wanted a balanced leadership team that blended experience, together with some of our younger players – which we have with the mix of players selected.
“I am confident this group will go from strength to strength in their new roles.”
Victory is set to begin their 2019/20 campaign against bitter cross-town foes Melbourne City in a round one Melbourne Derby at Marvel Stadium on 12 October.
The club also announced on Tuesday that Metricon Homes had extended its partnership with Victory for a further two years; the Metricon badge to be displayed on the front of Victory’s home and away kits.