Hamburg – New Hamburger SV signing Albin Ekdal could hardly have wished for a better welcome to Germany’s top flight than his first home game for the club on Matchday 2.

HSV’s fixture against VfB Stuttgart offered the best of the Bundesliga: a sold-out stadium, throbbing atmosphere, end-to-end action and goals aplenty – and the midfielder was instantly hooked.

‘Special atmosphere’

“It really was something special,” he told after his side’s 3-2 triumph. “During the game I’m able to block out everything else but after the final whistle I just soaked up the unbelievable atmosphere and celebrations. Adrenaline was pumping through my body.”

Suffice to say, the 26-year-old had never experienced anything like it in Italy with former clubs Cagliari Calcio, Bolgna FC, AC Siena and Juventus. “I haven’t played in front of a crowd of 55,000 people very often before,” he continued. “People had told me about the special atmosphere at HSV but I didn’t expect it would be anything like that. Once you’ve had a taste of it, you just want more and more.”

Finding his feet

If he continues to play as he did against Stuttgart then the chances are he will do. Ekdal had more touches of the ball (86) than any other player on the pitch, and he believes that is a key part of his game: “That’s how I’m best able to help the team, that’s what the game is for me. I’m the link between defence and attack.”

The 17-time Sweden international already feels settled in the city and at the club. And having recently found a spacious apartment to live in, with his girlfriend and dog set to join him there next month, he believes it will help him “feel even more at home than I already do.” That can only mean good news for HSV.