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Albert Rusnák Wastes No Time Endearing Himself to RSL

With a smile and a wink, Albert Rusnák endeared himself to Salt Lake City when he was officially unveiled as Real Salt Lake’s latest Designated Player signing at his introductory press conference on Friday.

The dashing 22-year-old went through a whirlwind 48 hours to finally land at Rio Tinto Stadium, where he was presented alongside RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen, General Manager Craig Waibel and Head Coach Jeff Cassar, but he was no worse for the wear and his enthusiasm about getting started with his newest club was contagious as he toured the stadium.

Rusnák’s former club, FC Groningen in Holland, reached an agreement with Real Salt Lake early this week.  By Wednesday, the club and player had agreed to terms and on Thursday morning he boarded a train from Groningen to Amsterdam, where he caught a direct flight to Salt Lake City.  At the airport, he was greeted by representatives from RSL, as well as some fans, and whisked away to get his medical evaluation and get acquainted with the city and club.

Through it all, he has smiled and welcomed every new face with a sincere handshake and wink, as if to say, “If you think this is fun, wait until you see me play.”

It is a message he conveyed without hesitation, with full confidence and with no slowing as the greetings grew in frequency over the course of his short stay in Utah.

“It’s been crazy in some ways, but also very positive.  I’m glad to be here and so far the first impression of the fans – it started at the airport where a couple of them turned up and it was great to see – are already making me feel welcome.  So far, it has been amazing,” Rusnák said.  “The interest was really big from the club and I’ve always said in my football career that the most important is to feel not just part of the football club, but part of a family.”

The journey towards signing his contract now complete, the next step begins as he builds toward the start of Real Salt Lake’s preseason on January 23 in Casa Grande, Arizona.  Upon approval of his P-1 visa, he will join the team in training camp and take the role of attacking midfielder.  He has the technical and athletic abilities to thrive in that role and with Real Salt Lake’s attacking core, he will have the weapons at his disposal to succeed.

His pedigree says the transition should be a smooth one – after coming up through the Manchester City youth academy, he played his first professional season in England before moving to Holland, where he scored in his debut for SC Cambuur while on loan in 2014.  From there, he moved to Groningen, where in his first season he scored two goals in the KNVB Cup final to help his club to a 2-0 victory.

He hopes to bring that same type of result to Rio Tinto Stadium.

“I have a winning mentality, so everywhere I go and every game I play, I want to win.  Even if it’s a game of FIFA on PlayStation or something.  I want to win all the time,” he said.  “Winning a cup at Groningen was an amazing feeling and probably the highlight of my career so far.  So I’m coming here to help the team to win games and win trophies.”

If Albert Rusnák’s magnetic personality isn’t enough to endear him to Real Salt Lake fans, his winning mentality certainly is and if he can bring similar success to RSL, he will quickly become a fan favorite.  With a wink and a smile.