LA Galaxy sign Swedish International Midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson
CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, September 5, 2012) – The LA Galaxy announced today that the club has signed Swedish international midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson. The 32-year-old joins the Galaxy as the next step in a successful career that has seen him earn 78 caps for the Swedish National Team and play club soccer throughout Europe as well as in the Middle East. Wilhelmsson will officially be added to the Galaxy roster pending the receipt of his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Wilhelmsson, who arrived in Southern California late last week and has been training with the club ever since, played 58 minutes for the Galaxy in a Reserve League game against the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday. He will be available to the local media for the first time as a Galaxy player on Thursday morning following the club’s 10 a.m. training session at The Home Depot Center.
A native of Malmo, Sweden, Wilhelmsson began his professional career at the age of 17, signing with Mjallby of the Swedish Division 1 Sodra (then-second division) after coming through their youth ranks. He spent three years with Mjallby, scoring 11 times in 52 games before joining Stabaek in Norway’s top division, the Tippeligaen. He helped lead Stabaek to the UEFA Cup twice and scored 25 goals in just more than three seasons with the club. Ahead of the start of the 2003/04 season, Wilhelmsson signed with Anderlecht of the Belgium First Division. In his first season with the club, Wilhelmsson scored four times in 27 appearances, helping lead Anderlecht to their first title in three years and qualify for the UEFA Champions League, where they advanced to the Group Stage. The following season, Anderlecht finished second, narrowly missing out on a second consecutive title, but still helping them again reach the Group Stage of the Champions League. The 2005/06 season was his third and final season in Belgium, leading the club to another title with five goals in 31 league games and sending them back to the Group Stage of the Champions League.
Following the 2006 World Cup, during which he appeared in all four of Sweden’s games as they reached the Round of 16, Wilhelmsson signed with Nantes in France’s Ligue 1. After spending the first half of the 2006/07 season with Nantes, making 13 appearances in the league, Wilhelmsson went on loan to Italy, joining Serie A giants Roma. He scored once in 19 games for the club, helping them win the Coppa Italia and qualify for the Champions League by finishing second in Serie A. The following season, Wilhelmsson went on loan again, spending the first half of the 2007/08 season in England with Bolton Wanderers, appearing in eight Premier League games, before heading to Spain with Deportivo la Coruna. He made 15 appearances in Spain, scoring once while helping Deportivo finish in the top half of the table and earn a berth in the Intertoto Cup, through which they claimed a spot in the UEFA Cup.
Following the 2008 European Championships, Wilhelmsson left Europe in order to move to the Middle East, signing with Al-Hilal in the Saudi Professional League. In his second season with the club, Wilhelmsson helped Al-Hilal win a title, scoring nine times in 20 games. He led his club to a repeat of their title the following season while also winning the Crown Prince Cup in both 2010 and 2011, scoring in each of those finals. Wilhelmsson spent the first half of the 2011/12 campaign on loan in Qatar with Al-Ahli before rejoining Al-Hilal for the second half of his final season with the club.
Wilhelmsson has collected 78 caps in his international career, scoring nine times for Sweden since making his debut in 2001 against the Faroe Islands. He was a part of the Swedish team that played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 European Championships, as well as at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, appearing in 12 of the 14 games that Sweden played in those tournaments. He last played for his country on August 15, starting in their 3-0 loss to Brazil in Stockholm.
The Galaxy will be back in action on Friday, September 14 when they host the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center. That game, which is presented by MetroPCS, kicks off at 8 p.m. and can be seen live on KDOC and Univision Deportes. For more information about this game or to purchase tickets, please visit www.lagalaxy.com/tickets.