War cry from new Stoke City signing as Viking and his dad get ready for a big 'hello'

Viktor Johansson is the first Stoke City signing of the summer.
Warm welcome... Viktor Johansson is the first Stoke City signing of the summer. -Credit:Phil Greig

New signing Viktor Johansson is ready to dive in head first to help haul Stoke City back towards where they want to be. The 25-year-old is Stoke’s first arrival of the summer after four seasons at Rotherham, where he established himself as one of the leading goalkeepers in the Championship.

Stoke have triggered a relegation release clause and seen off strong competition to get the deal done quickly. The Swede knows what he is walking into at the bet365 Stadium and is hungry to be part of the big challenge to bring back the good times.

“One hundred per cent,” he said. “I love a challenge. It suits me well and I can’t wait to get started. I’m itching to go and I definitely want to be part of this journey.”

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Johansson has already introduced himself to Stoke fans with stand-out performances as an opponent, particularly in a 1-0 win for Rotherham back in October 2022 when the Potters had 29 shots but couldn’t find a way past him.

He is not just a shot stopper, however, and he earned a nickname of The Viking thanks to his derring-do when the action is in his area.

“That was a good game, everything clicked and I still remember it,” he said. “It was a great day for the whole team as well.

“People look at me and might think I’m not the biggest but I would say I command my area pretty well. I’m brave, I scrap. I just love getting hit or hitting someone. It’s a contact sport, there should be contact. And I like shot stopping too.”

Performances like that helped make him a crowd favourite in South Yorkshire and it has been a big decision to cut his ties.

He explained: “It was made with a heavy heart, put it that way. When I went there I was a kid, well 20, but having not played any games. I had played 10 or 11 games on loan at Alfreton and that was it. But I came in and when I got my chance everyone got behind me. I never heard a bad word. If a mistake happened, they were brilliant with me, the whole club and the fans.

“It was tough. My dad couldn’t even come over for the last game, saying he just couldn’t do it. But then to see the kind of support I got when I left helped me with that process. It was nice to see the support I got.”

The flood of affection was helped thanks to a unique gesture on Rotherham’s final day of the season when he bought 600 fans their first drink at the Cutlers Arms, a pub a 10-minute walk away from the New York Stadium.

“I can’t remember how much I put behind the bar,” he said. “It was 600 pints. It was my way of saying thank you. They have been outstanding and I don’t think you can put a price on that. They helped me massively in my development and career so far, so I have a lot to repay them for.

“I had a great chat with my representatives and my dad. My dad was pulling pints at one of the bars in Rotherham and he became, not quite a legend but he loved everyone. He loved coming over and being in the bars, and we just thought we’d do something nice for the supporters for all the support they gave me and my family. It was nice.”

Johansson Senior, Tobias, should now feel at home with the Swedish Stokies supporters’ club, who have four permanent seats in the Boothen End for use by their members and enjoy their regular trips for the football and the social life.

“He will fit right in,” he said. “My dad loves a beer and he will enjoy that. I have already heard about the Swedish supporters’ club and when they come over I’ll make sure I get a chance to say hello.”

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