Johansson reflects on Rotherham’s record-breaking campaign – News

Amid the sea of ​​red and white packed into the open end of the MEMS Priestfield Stadium, splashes of blue and yellow could be spotted on the stands, a departure from the traditional colors of Rotherham United.

Those shirts belonged to the family of Miller goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, who traveled from his native Sweden two weeks ago to see the stopper in action and swap shirts before flying to Scandinavia.

A 2-0 win over Gillingham on their travels not only secured promotion to Sky Bet League One on first request, but set a new clean sheet club record in the process, recording 27 shutouts during the campaign. and conceded just 11 away goals.

And the Swede, who himself has kept 11 clean slates in 26 league appearances, could be seen running the length of the pitch to join his teammates after Irishman Georgie Kelly scored on his debut to almost seal the deal for Rotherham.

“He has exceeded my expectations this season,” gasped Johansson. “We just needed to cross the line.

“It’s amazing, to be honest. After last season, we knew our goal – we wanted to pick ourselves up. Doing it with these boys is fantastic. I couldn’t be happier right now. »

Bidding his time was key for Johansson, who was called in following a hand injury to teammate Josh Vickers.

And the keeper, who had already turned up more than 20 times for the Millers while mainly acting as a Vickers understudy, was more than ready to pick up his gloves, taking his place between the sticks at Wembley for the Papa Johns Trophy. . Final.

“When I’m on the bench, I’m a nervous wreck,” he laughed. “I’m more of a supporter when I’m on the bench. Me, as a person, I like to go out and support the boys.

He added: “Me and Josh (Vickers) get along really well and support each other no matter who’s in goal,” he explained. “I had his full support, and even that of Josh Chapman, our young goalkeeper who sat on the bench and did very well.

“Also Andy Warrington, our goalkeeping coach – we work day in and day out, and it’s nice to see it all paying off. We push each other every day, especially the goalkeepers. We want the team to do well and for happens, we have to do well.

It was around this time, at the start of last season, that the 23-year-old stood by the sink in his hotel room washing his clothes after landing in the UK with nothing but the bare minimum.

He received the call that the South Yorkshire team wanted to try the Swede and, despite struggling with his initial move to the country, hopped on a flight to find he hadn’t brought enough underwear.

“I haven’t had any clothes for six weeks!” he remembered. “I couldn’t come back to collect my luggage. I didn’t have a washing machine and the hotel didn’t wash my clothes. I had to go out once a week to buy new clothes. It worked well, so I didn’t can’t complain.”

Upon signing, the Miller number one was only introduced to supporters at the start of this season, with games being held behind closed doors following the COVID-19 pandemic – although he admitted that it had been beneficial to him to be facilitated in the life in the second floor.

And even he couldn’t have foreseen what was to come after putting pen to paper with Paul Warne’s side.

“Never,” he replied. “I told my dad last season that I didn’t even expect to play a game. It’s just crazy. Gaining this experience helped me a lot, like today which taught me to keep my cool.

But it’s always been in Johansson’s genes. His father, who enjoyed a career in the lower leagues at home, helped the keeper along the way, after he moved to England to join Aston Villa and later Leicester City as a coach briefly.

“He made me play as a striker and centre-half when I was a kid to get into the mindset of their way of thinking,” he recalled. “My mum and dad never pushed me. They just said, ‘do it because you like it’. They stopped driving me to practice just to see me catch the bus and come home late.

While this season has exceeded even its own hopes, it’s been something of a roller coaster, according to the stopper.

“This season has been ups and downs,” he continued. “We started brilliantly in the first half. Even two-thirds of the season has been really good.

“We took a dive, but we managed to get out of it and that’s what good teams do. We went back to basics and we knew what had to be done.

Johansson transformed into his nickname “the Viking” and, at times, literally gave his blood, sweat and tears for the cause; never more so than when he launched his own line of beanies in conjunction with his new club, which he could be seen wearing as he walked around the pitch under the arch.

“I only have one, but my father took it when he came, so I don’t have any to wear at the moment!” he exclaimed. “I love the fans and I love what they do. It’s nice a little pat on the back.

“It started on the commentary. John Breckin said, ‘He’s like a Swedish Viking,’ and it’s just stuck.”

True to his tag, the stopper was more than ready to fight for a top two finish to avoid another visit to the National Stadium. The Millers scored twice for the Papa Johns Trophy, before finishing second in the League standings.

Boss Paul Warne is one of Rotherham’s most successful managers as the season draws to a close.

“At Wembley it was different,” he said. “I had nothing to lose and I could just go out and enjoy it.

“It was more pressure, I would say. Here it was for all the fans who have supported us all season and showed up to games, especially those last six or seven games which have been amazing.

“I am full of emotions. It just got crazy.


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