This morning it was announced that one of Switzerland’s greatest players of all time will retire from floorball. FloorballToday had a talk with 29 year old Emanuel Antener about his career, his best opponents and his advice for young players:
When did you decide to retire from elite floorball?
Definitely last week. Although every time I’ve renewed a contract I had to look over what’s best for me and what fits the civil life. But this time it felt more serious than before. During the WFC in December it felt like this would be my last one. Later on in the spring it became more and more clear that it’s time for me to move on.
How did you come to that decision?
We’re not professional in the way that we can do this full time. The whole career has been a puzzle with education, work and the private life. I’ve always had big ambitions in my education and working life, and since I’ve also become a father, it’s gotten even harder to combine floorball with civil life. I didn’t want to compromise as much on the civil life in order to play floorball. I could’ve compromised on the floorball and had less practices than the team, but I feel like elite sport isn’t meant for compromising if you’re ambitious.
In my very last game I broke my arm. It’s not the worst type of injury but it still takes some months for it to recover. I’ve had some issues with my back as well, but I could play anyway. During my surgery for my broken arm, they discovered that it was a spinal disc herniation, which is pretty serious. It’s not only the injuries that played a role in the decision process, but it was a kind of a signal that it’s time for something else.
Let’s go back to where it all begun. When did you start playing floorball?
It started just by playing with my friends on the street, and then during my first year in school I started to play organized floorball in a club, with 1 practice every week. When I was 14 I joined Köniz, where I played the rest of my career, besides 2 seasons in AIK. I’ve actually never enjoyed anything other sport besides floorball, and I didn’t have any talent in any other sport too. People usually practice 5 different sports for 15 years, but I’ve only practiced 1 sport for 25 years. And looking back, it was the right sport for me to choose.
At what age did you start playing senior floorball?
Around 18-19. Something interesting is that I was not really a stand-out player as a junior. I played in the third line of the Swiss U19 team, which is good, but I wasn’t the star player. When I stepped up to the A-team my development rapidly increased. For most young players it takes a couple of years or so to adapt, but not for me. One time a player got injured, and they put me in the first line together with David Blomberg. Already in the first game together with him we scored 5 points each, and it went well after that. Daniel Calebsson also joined Köniz, so I got to play with him and David, which was fantastic.
As you said, you had a couple of years in AIK in the Swedish Super League. How was that experience?
The biggest step for me was on a personal level. Before AIK I lived at home with my mom, so when I went to Sweden I got to learn a lot about the everyday life and to take care of myself. And the floorball was really good too. On the paper we had a pretty good team – for most of the part I got to play with Fredrik Djurling and Kim Nilsson, and you can say that it’s not that hard to play together with them.
Do you think there are any differences between the Swedish league (SSL) and Swiss league (NLA)?
Yes there are some, but I think the biggest one is the width of quality. In NLA only some teams have several good players, but in SSL team 13 and 14 still have 2 solid lines. In SSL, the top team could lose to a worst team if they’re having a bad day.
During the 2012 WFC, you became the top scorer with 26 points made. Would you say that this is when you peaked as a player?
Yes, I’d say so, and not only by looking at the statistics. During that time I’d never before and didn’t ever afterwards put so much effort into floorball. My commitment to the sport was huge, I did everything possible to improve. It wasn’t only the WFC that went well for me, but the whole season in Köniz, where I also won the point scoring league. Looking back, it was the biggest season for me, but it wasn’t the only great season. To play with David Blomberg and Daniel Calebsson, as well as Fredrik Djurling and Kim Nilsson was also nice. And 2 years ago Köniz had its most successful season ever when we won the league and the Swiss cup, and made it to the playoffs final too.
What’s your best memory in floorball?
All WFC tournaments and big finals have been really fantastic to play, in different ways. But the 2012 WFC in Switzerland is the best one. To play in front of a home crowd and play so good was incredible. My first WFC, which was in 2008 in Prague was something special too, especially the bronze game against Czech Republic which was held in front of 12 000 cheering fans who created an amazing atmosphere.
Who is the best player you’ve ever faced?
To pick someone from practice, I would say Alexander Egebrandt in AIK, and as opponents I would say Mattias Samuelsson and Joel Kanebjörk.
If you would put yourself in a dream lineup – picking from the players you’ve had in your team – what would it look like?
Goalkeeper: Tomas Kafka, Czech Republic
Defender: Daniel Bill, Switzerland.
Defender: Kristoffer Kranberg, Sweden.
Center: Simon Stucki, Switzerland
Forward: David Blomberg, Sweden
Who’s been the most important coach for you?
It’s hard to pick one, since I’ve had several good coaches in my career. But I’d say Luan Misini, who’s coaching GC Zürich today. He taught me to make good use of the skills that I have. He said that I should do my own thing, and made me believe in doing what I’m good at.
What would be your advice for the young players out there today?
To have fun and do what you like. Be the best you can be in your own way. I’d be the world’s worst defensive defender, and the best defensive defender would not be good in my role either. So do the best out of your own abilities.
What do you think about the future of floorball, will it become an even bigger sport?
Absolutely. Of course I’m a bit biased, but I really believe it. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what size you are. I think there’s a great potential to develop. It becomes tougher and tougher, and we’re filling big arenas and it can been seen on TV as well. A great thing about floorball is that anything can happen at any time. When you’re up 4 goals the other team can do a comeback within 5 minutes, unlike some other sports.
Are you still going to be involved with floorball now after your career?
I’ve created a big network and have many contacts in floorball, and basically everyone is fun to be around. I’ll be following the sport, but of course I want to spend time with my family and for other things in life too.
And what about a comeback?
Never say never, but not what I feel as of now. Although I won’t exclude what it might look like in 3 years. I’ve had an amazing career where I’ve gotten to travel around and play floorball, and met many fantastic people, which I’m very thankful for.