Helsinki Roosters Exchanging Players With Austria

With the growing popularity of American football around the world and in Europe, the term ‘import’ no longer strictly applies to North Americans. Austria and Finland have “swapped” imports this week as two of the top defensive players in Austria head north to Finland’s Helsinki Roosters while the Roosters’ leading tackler moves down to Austria to play for the Swarco Raiders.

Austrian defenders Helsinki-bound

Austria - Benjamin Bubik

Benjamin Bubik

Austrian National Team players defensive back Benjamin Bubik (5’10”, 180 lb) and linebacker Dustin Illetschko (5’10”, 224 lbs) have signed contracts with reigning Finnish Champions Helsinki Roosters for 2015.

Both players have played their entire careers for one of Europe’s top three teams, the Vienna Vikings. In 2014, Bubik led his team in interceptions and Illetchko in tackles. Illetchko was also named the Austrian Football League’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

Helsinki Roosters head coach Juha Hakala is hyped about the new players:

Benjamin and Dustin are first class European players who will have a great impact for our defense in the upcoming season. Both players have also lot of experience from big games and that they can share their experience with our young players and I expect them to be leaders for our team and also make our other players around them even better.

Austria - Dustin Illichetko

Dustin Illetschko

Roosters Linebacker headed to Swarco

Roosters leading tackler in 2014 linebacker  Roni Salonen has agreed to a two year deal with the Swarco Raiders in Austria. Salonen will join former Roosters’ quarterback Sean Shelton who signed with the Raiders earlier this off-season.

Salonen commented on his move:

I feel great about the opportunity to try my talent level in middle Europe. I’m looking forward to fight for a starting position in the Raiders linebacker group.

Finland - Roni Salonen

Roni Salonen

The timing of these signings could not have been better coming on the heels of announcement of the transfer of the two Dutch national team players – Chris Smith and Tom van Duijn – moving over to play for the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions. And there are many more similar stories of Irish and Belgian players playing in Germany, Austrians suiting up for teams in Switzerland. Many UK players have made their marks in a number of European countries.

Look for future stories in AFI as we continue to follow the development of American football all over the world.

Thanks to the Helsinki Roosters for this story. Read the original article here.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.