ELF: Veteran linebacker Dustin Illetschko returns to his hometown Vienna Vikings

The Vienna Vikings of the European League of Football have signed veteran linebacker Dustin Illetschko. The homegrown Austrian talent is thrilled to be back in purple for his third stint with the Vikings. The chance to suit up again for his hometown team in a new league was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down:

“I’m going to play for the Vikings because Vienna is my home and the current center of my life. Of course, I want to show the Vikings that we are the number one in Europe. I want to play in the European League of Football because this league offers everything that no league has been able to offer so far. They are trying to give the sport what it deserves, namely a professional stage. The goal is to shake up the league and show the other countries what Vienna football is all about. But the big goal is clearly the postseason and the final in the Wörthersee Stadium, Klagenfurt. When I first heard about the Vikings’ plans to join the European League of Football, I was immediately full of anticipation and really wanted to be part of the new Vienna franchise. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Vienna’s fans again and to the many new impressions that this league has to offer.”

Illetschko, a 6′, 230-pound native of Vienna, Austria, first began his football career playing for the Vienna Vikings youth program. After six years playing youth football, Illetschko moved on to play for the Vikings senior team for four seasons spending a decade of football with the Vikings.

More recently, the 30 year old played in one game for the Badalona Dracs of Spain before suffering an injury in late 2020. The experienced defender had signed to play for the Frankfurt Universe in 2020 before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He spent the 2019 season with the Potsdam Royals in the German Football League North, where he was the fifth leading tackler in the GFL recording 144 tackles in 14 games. In 2018, he returned to his home club, the Dacia Vienna Vikings and recorded 45 tackles in 10 games, good for fifth overall in the Austrian Football League. Prior to that, Illetschko spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Universe and in the course of the two seasons amassed 214 tackles and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.

He arrived in Frankfurt after playing one season with the Finnish champion Helsinki Roosters in 2015 where he earned Maple League All-Star honors. He was named Austria’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 after helping the Vienna Vikings win the Austrian crown.

Illetschko on his finest memories as a player:

“I have had some wonderful experiences. One of the best memories I have was in 2013 when I was able to win two titles with the Vikings in one year: the Austrian Bowl and the Eurobowl with a 15-0 record. Winning Finland’s Maple Bowl in 2015 with the Roosters is also an unforgettable experience.  I also have to mention the home game with the Universe against Schwäbisch Hall in 2016 in front of 8,000 fans. Despite a bitter loss, that game is definitely one of my personal highlights. But the bitterest defeat, and yet one of the highlights of my career was playing for Austria and losing in the European Championship final to Germany.”

Illetschko now returns to Vienna after nearly two years removed from playing organized football. The veteran defender is one of many talented Austrians making their way to the Vikings program after their historic move to the European League of Football. Illetschko joins linebacker Thomas Schnurrer, defensive back Florian Albrecht, and offensive lineman Aleksandar Milanovic as more domestic talent looks lines up to wear purple this summer.

Watch Illetschko’s 2018 highlights here:

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football