Ola Toivonen convinced to join Melbourne Victory by former Heart star

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Melbourne Victory have a former rival player to thank for their new Swedish signing

Former Melbourne Heart midfielder Orlando Engelaar was one of the key men behind Ola Toivonen's decision to join A-League side Melbourne Victory.

Engelaar spent one season in Australia with Heart, scoring five goals across 12 appearances - including a stunning strike from inside his own half.

While the former Netherlands international was an on-field rival for Victory, he's now surely in the clubs good books after convincing Toivonen to make the move. 

The Swedish attacker, who scored at the 2018 World Cup, has joined Kevin Muscat's side on a two-year deal and revealed the big role Engelaar played in his decision. 

"I have a friend in Holland, Orlando Engelaar, we talk about (the A-League) a little bit and the contact was there," Toivonen said in his first Victory press conference. 

"He asked me if I was interested about (moving to Australia) and I was interested. We didn’t talk so much about (the quality of league), we talked more about the lifestyle in Australia.

"I’ve got a two year contract here and I’m really looking forward to the adventure.

"As I said in a lot of interviews, if I go on an adventure, I still want to win something so that was important for me and this situation was perfect."

Engelaar and Toivonen's now fortuitous friendship stems from their days playing together for Eredivisie club PSV - now home to Australian duo Aziz Behich and Trent Sainsbury.

Ola Toivonen/ Engelarr PSV

A versatile attacker, Toivonen is happy to be deployed anywhere in the final third with Victory and is ready to thrive under the pressure of defending the A-League title.

"I like to be a striker. I can play as a striker - a number nine - or as a (second) striker," he said.

"If you have seen during my career, all the clubs I have been playing in, there has always been high pressure - especially when I was in Holland expecting to win all the cups and championships."

After Victory put a difficult season behind them to win the A-League grand final, Muscat has been forced to rebuild his side after losing attacking stars Besart Berisha and Leroy George.

Having already signed Keisuke Honda, Toivonen has been another massive signing and the Victory coach is clearly quite happy with how his squad is shaping. 

"The transformation on where we ended up last season to where we are now has been huge," he said. 

"I think we have created even more flexibility in our front third.

"Ola’s scored goals in his career and we’ve seen that recently in the World Cup. He can also drop a little bit deeper and occupy wider areas.

"It creates some unbelievable competition for places."

Engelaar's brief stint in the A-League obviously leaving quite a positive impression for the Dutchman, whose long-range strike against Central Coast Mariners won't be forgotten anytime soon.

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