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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joel Ekstrand
Joel Ekstrand.jpg
Ekstrand in training with Watford.
Personal information
Full name Lars Hening Joel Ekstrand[1]
Date of birth (1989-02-04) 4 February 1989 (age 29)[2]
Place of birth Lund, Sweden
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
AIK
Number 26
Youth career
1997–2005 Lunds BK
2006–2007 Helsingborgs IF
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2011 Helsingborgs IF 73 (1)
2011–2013 Udinese 12 (0)
2012–2013Watford (loan) 32 (1)
2013–2016 Watford 57 (1)
2016–2017 Bristol City 2 (0)
2017 Rotherham United 1 (0)
2018– AIK 0 (0)
National team
2004–2006 Sweden U17 5 (0)
2007–2008 Sweden U19 11 (1)
2009–2010 Sweden U21 9 (1)
2010–2014 Sweden 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 11:41, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 5 March 2014

Lars Hening Joel Ekstrand (born 4 February 1989) is a Swedish footballer who plays as a defender for AIK. He has represented Sweden at senior international level and at various youth levels.

Career

Helsingborgs IF

Ekstrand started playing football for his home town club Lunds BK as a youth player.[3] In 2005, he moved to Helsingborgs IF and two years later, he signed his first professional contract with the club in the summer.[3]

After being called up by the Helsingborgs IF squad in February 2008,[3] Ekstrand made his first team debut against PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of the UEFA Cup Round of 32, at Philips Stadion, which saw Helsingborgs lose 2–0.[4] He was featured again in the second leg of the UEFA Cup Round of 32, at Olympia stadium, which saw them lose 2–1, putting them eliminated from the tournament.[5] Ekstrand made his Helsingborgs IF debut, where he started the whole game, in a 3–0 win over GIF Sundsvall in the opening game of the season.[6] In a 2–2 draw against IFK Norrköping on 20 April 2008, he started the game but was substituted in the 7th minutes following a collision and suffered a broken nose and concussion.[7] After missing out in the next match, as a result of injuries,[8] Ekstrand made his return to the first team from injury, starting the whole game, in a 4–2 win over Malmö on 28 April 2008.[9] Since then, Ekstrand had developed himself into a key player at Helsingborg IF with the likes of Marcus Nilsson, Andreas Granqvist and Samir Beloufa.[10][11] Despite being absent again this season,[12] he made 28 appearances in all competitions at his first season. At the end of the 2008 season, Ekstrand was nominated for the Newcomer of the Year[13] but lost out to Robin Söder.

In the 2009 season, Ekstrand continued to remain in the first team regular and helped the side go to their winning form in the first three league matches to the season.[14][15] However, he was sent–off just one minute before the half–time, in a 2–0 loss against Örebro on 20 April 2009.[16] After serving a one match ban,[17] Ekstrand returned to the first team and provided a goal for Rasmus Jönsson, who scored a hat–trick, in a 3–0 win over AIK on 29 April 2009.[18] Having regained his first team place since returning from his suspension,[19] Ekstrand signed a contract with the club, keeping him until 2012.[20] He then scored his first goal for the club in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League second round, in a 2–2 draw against Zestafoni to put them through to the next round.[21] However, Ekstrand was once again sent–off when he received a straight red card in the first half, in a 3–0 loss against Örgryte on 18 October 2009.[22] Despite being suspended[23] and injury[24][25][26] on four occasions later in this season, he went on to make 32 appearances in all competitions.

In the 2010 season, Ekstrand was in defensive first team position when he helped the side go on unbeaten run for the first twelve matches to the start season.[27][28] While the club go on the unbeaten run, he received a straight red card in the first half, in a 1–0 win over Mjällby on 26 April 2010 and served a two match suspension.[29][30] After returning to the first team, Ekstrand scored his first league goal for the club, in a 3–1 win over Gefle on 10 May 2010.[31] He was later suspended on two occasions later in the season, including another straight red, in a 0–0 draw against Göteborg on 15 August 2010,[32][33] and injury concerns as well.[34][35] Nevertheless, Ekstrand finished the season, winning the Svenska Cupen Final[36] and making 25 appearances and scoring once in all competitions. At the end of the 2010 season, he was nominated for the player’s back of the year but lost out to Olof Mellberg.[37]

With the 2010 season ended, Ekstrand was linked a move away from Helsingborgs IF, as clubs from Italy were keen on signing him.[38] The club confirmed that Ekstrand was expected to leave the club.[39] After a much speculation over his future,[40] it was announced that Ekstrand joined Udinese in 2011.[41]

Udinese

Ekstrand playing for Udinese in 2011.
Ekstrand playing for Udinese in 2011.

On 18 January 2011, Ekstrand penned a four-year deal with Udinese through to 2015.[42] Prior to the move, he spoke out about joining Udinese, quoting: ‘’"It has always been a dream. It is a big football country that took World Cup gold not long ago. Here are big clubs and the best Swedish is playing in Series A."’’[43]

However, Ekstrand did appear in the first team for the first five months into joining the club, as he mostly sat out from the squad, as well as, competition from Andrea Coda.[44] Ekstrand debuted for the club when Udinese faced Lazio in a 2–1 victory in which he came off the bench in the 70th minute on 8 May 2011.[45] This turns out to be his only appearance of the 2010–11 season.

In the 2011–12 season, Ekstrand made his first start for Udinese in a Champions League qualifying game against Arsenal.[46] For this match, Udinese changed from the previous season's 3–5–2 formation to 4–1–4–1, where wing-backs Mauricio Isla and Pablo Armero became midfielders, thus using 4 defenders instead of 3 centre-backs. Ekstrand remained in the starting XI in the return leg a week later with Udinese losing 2–1 (3–1 agg).[47] Despite competitions from Medhi Benatia and Danilo,[48] Ekstrand went on to make a further 17 appearances in all competitions for the 2011–12 season, picking up a total of seven yellow cards.

Watford

On 31 August 2012, Ekstrand joined Championship side Watford on a season-long loan from Udinese.[49] It came after when he informed the Udinese management that he wanted to leave the club for first team football[50] and was close to joining Eredivisie side Groningen but collapsed over transfer demands.[51]

After being absent for several matches, due to illness,[52] though appeared as an unused substitute,[53] Ekstrand made his debut against Charlton Athletic on 2 October 2012, coming on in the second half to replace Neuton.[54] After recovering from an injury setback,[55] Ekstrand scored his first Watford goal in a 2–1 win over Derby County on 23 February 2013.[56] From that moment on, he began to established himself in the first team for the rest of the season.[57] On 12 May 2013, Ekstrand played in the semi-final second leg against Leicester City. In a dramatic finale, after Watford goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved both a penalty taken by Anthony Knockaert and a rebound which would have sent Leicester through to the final, Troy Deeney scored in the seventh minute of added time to take Watford through to the Championship Play-off Final on aggregate.[58] In the Championship Play–off Final, Ekstrand played the whole game throughout 120 minutes extra time, as Watford lost the final against Crystal Palace.[59] At the end of the 2012–13 season, he went on to make 36 appearances and scoring once in all competitions.

On 24 July 2013, Watford confirmed Ekstrand had signed a three-year deal with the club.[60] His first appearance for Watford since joining them on a permanent basis came on 6 August 2013, where he captained the side and played the whole game, in a 3–1 win over Bristol Rovers in the first round of the League Cup.[61] He made his first start of the season away to Reading on 17 August 2013[62] and following this, Ekstrand continued to remain in the first team regular for the club despite having two managers this season.[63][64] Despite some setback of injuries[65][66][67][68] and suspensions,[69] Ekstrand finished his permanent basis season, making 39 appearances in all competitions.

Prior to the 2014–15 season, Ekstrand was keen on leaving Watford despite having a remaining two years to his contract.[70] Amid to the transfer speculation, Ekstrand made a poor start of the season when he was "sent–off after just two minutes for a collision with Nathan Redmond", in a 3–0 loss against Norwich City on 16 August 2014.[71] After serving a three match suspension,[72] he returned to the first team and continued to regain his first team place despite competitions.[73] However, Ekstrand found himself out of the first team following Slaviša Jokanović’s change of formation 3–5–2 tactics and his own injury concerns.[74][75] After returning to training from injury,[76] Ekstrand scored his first goal as a permanent Watford player, in a 4–3 win against Bolton Wanderers on 14 February 2015.[77] After being sidelined again,[78] it was announced, however on 24 March 2015, that Ekstrand would be out for up to nine months after damaging his cruciate ligament in a Football League Championship match against Ipswich Town on 21 March.[79] Watford gained Promotion to the Premier League, with Ekstrand playing 25 games during the promotion season.

Following this, Ekstrand continued to rehabilitate with his knee injury and was dropped from the Premier League squad.[80][81] He made a playing comeback from injury in January 2016 after being out injured since March 2015, playing two matches for Watford's development squad,[82] however he picked up an injury in an against Boreham Wood.[83] In February 2016, then Watford Manager Quique Sánchez Flores revealed the club were in talks to extend Ekstrand's contract at the club despite Ekstrand still recovering from injury, with Flores describing Ekstrand: Ekstrand could be a very interesting central defender for the future. He has experience and plays football very well.[84] However, this was denied by Ekstrand, although he was keen on staying at the club.[85]

After failing to make a first team appearance during the 2015/16 season due to injury and his contract situation changing after a change in management with Quique Sánchez Flores leaving the club and being replaced by Walter Mazzarri, on 3 June 2016, it was announced that Ekstrand would leave Watford upon the expiry of his contract.[86]

On 13 July 2016, Ekstrand had been set to sign for Championship club Leeds United on a free transfer, however after a medical and negotiations with the player, Leeds then pulled out of the deal [87][88] Following this, Ekstrand later reflected his experience at his medical prior to joining Leeds United.[89]

Bristol City

On 6 September 2016, Ekstrand signed for Championship club Bristol City on a one-year deal, after training with the squad during August.[90] He was previously linked with a move to the club before joining in favour of Leeds United, which was broken down.[91]

Ekstrand made his debut for Bristol City in the 2–2 draw with Rotherham United on 10 September 2016, coming on as a substitute for Scott Golbourne.[92] His second appearance for the club came on 17 September 2016, making his first start, in a 1–1 draw against Derby County.[93] However, Ekstrand was soon sidelined with a hamstring injury and illness, keeping him out for several months.[94] Even after returning from injury, he remained out of the first team until his release by the club.[95][96]

Rotherham United

On 2 February 2017, free agent Ekstrand signed for fellow Championship side Rotherham United on a deal until the end of the season.[97]

Ekstrand made his Rotherham United (and his only appearance) debut, making his first start for the side and played 68 minutes before being substituted, in a 5–0 win over Cardiff City on 16 February 2017.[98] After missing out the rest of the season, due to a knee injury,[99] He left the club at the end of his contract.[100]

After leaving Rotherham United, Ekstrand was linked with a move back to Sweden, with IFK Göteborg keen on signing him, but the move was broken down over money problems.[101][102]

AIK

On 15 January 2018, Ekstrand signed a 3-year contract with AIK, making his return to Allsvenskan and Swedish football.[103]

International career

Ekstrand has represented Sweden U15, Sweden U16, Sweden U17, Sweden U18, Sweden U19 and Sweden U21.[104] While at Sweden U21, Ekstrand made nine appearances for the side and scored one goal against Estonia U21 on 9 June 2009.[105]

In December 2009, Ekstrand was called up by Sweden for the first time.[106] After appearing as an unused substitute against Oman for the first time on 20 January 2010,[107] Ekstrand made his full Sweden debut in a friendly against Syria in 2010.[108] Ekstrand's performances with Watford were rewarded with a return to the Sweden squad for the friendly game against Argentina on 6 February 2013.[109] However, he withdrew from the squad due to a knee injury.[110] It wasn’t until on 5 March 2014 when he made his first Sweden appearance in four years, in a 2–1 loss against Turkey.[111]

Career Statistics

Personal life

Following his move to Udinese, Ekstrand began to learn Italian three times a week[112] and subsequently learned the language well.[113] In an interview with Watford Observer, he also revealed that he speaks English and grew up supporting Arsenal as a young kid.[114]

References

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External links

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