Lod Celebration

Ever since he was a young boy, Robin Lod has had a ball at his feet. From the moment he started walking, Minnesota’s favorite Finnish soccer player has been drawn to the beautiful game. When he was too young to have a team of his own, Lod joined his brother in training sessions because he wanted to be around the sport as much as possible. When he turned five years old, it was finally time to pull on a jersey of his own. 

Now a consummate professional, it appears that the young Finn knew exactly what he was meant to do.

Lod played youth soccer in his home nation, learning a variety of positions from day one. Now an incredibly versatile competitor, Lod’s ability to seamlessly transition into any spot on the pitch makes onlookers question the superiority of the Swiss Army knife. 

“I’m always prepared to be where the coach wants me, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I enjoy playing different positions because it’s always something new and you don’t get stale. You see the game differently in different positions, so you understand more about the game. If I had to say something, I’d say, as I’m getting older, I feel like I enjoy playing in the middle more. I just like to be inside the game and more involved in the whole game.”

In 2011, Lod’s unique skill set earned him his professional debut for Klubi 04, the reserve team for Finnish giants HJK Helsinki. He made his way to the first team later that year, scoring in his first match at the top-level. The hometown hero went on to make 75 appearances for his boyhood club before taking the next step in his career. 

Lod first took his talents abroad when he joined Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos from 2015-2018, earning appearances in the UEFA Europa League during his tenure in Athens. From there, the Finnish-Messi played one season in Spain with Sporting Gijon, wrapping up the European chapter of his club soccer career thus far.

Though his contracts up to that point had brought him steadily closer to American shores, Lod never planned on making the trip across the pond, let alone joining a club in Minnesota.

Lod v. NYRB

“It was pretty unknown to me,” he said. “I knew the league and I knew that it was growing. It was exciting to come see how the American sports culture is. It’s totally different than in Europe. It was a nice step at that time.”

Whether he was ready for the North Star State or not, Minnesota was certainly ready for him. His time in Black and Blue has been packed with big moments since joining in 2019, including 100 appearances and 26 goals, one short of the club goalscoring record. Though the title of top-scorer is within reach, he doesn’t let that affect his game.

“It will come if it comes,” he said. “I don’t ever think about it, but it would be so cool to be the best scorer in the club’s history. Even if I’m one goal away, I’m still not thinking about it. I’m just happy to go to the games and do my best to help, if it happens, it happens.”

Throughout his stay in Minnesota, Robin has lived a full life off the field as well. His positivity and willingness to assist others on the pitch carries over into his personal life in multiple ways. Just last season, he volunteered to deliver blankets to patients at M Health Fairview Masonic Hospital with his wife Janni and daughter Louisa. Regardless of where he is, Lod expresses a desire to give.

While he returns home to Finland during the offseason with his family, Minnesota’s moist climate reminds him of his native land when he’s away.

“It’s really similar to Finland,” he said. “I mean, weather-wise, it’s totally the same. You have the long winters, really short spring and autumn, then the longer summers. You have all of the seasons, which reminds me of home. I think the people are similar, they’re really nice. There’s a lot of similarities for sure.”

His trips home haven’t all been for rest, though. The Finnish Defense Force is based on a universal male conscription, requiring all men above the age of 18 to complete at least 165 days of training. Every year, an average of 27,000 conscripts are trained. At the age of 28, Robin Lod was one of 27,000.

Typically, citizens complete this training relatively early. However, everyone’s life takes a different path. As Lod pursued his dream of playing professional soccer, his military training got kicked down the road for another time. When time finally allowed him to take it on, he was already living here in Minnesota.

“It was an experience,” he said. “I wish I did it when I was younger, when I was 18 or 19 like most of the guys doing it. I think I would have enjoyed the experience more. It was tough at the moment when I was there, but afterwards it’s funny to look back and say that I’ve done it. You do camping in the forest, I think we stayed five nights in the forest one time. It’s just basic military training. You have to shoot a little bit, learn working dynamics, like how to work with each other and what our responsibilities are if something happens.”

A man with a million stories to tell, Robin Lod’s life is certainly not short of experiences. On the field, he’s a tireless workhorse, capable of plugging any hole in the lineup. Off the pitch, he’s a father, husband, world traveler, volunteer and so much more.

The soccer story of Robin Lod is not yet finished. Will the hero go down in history as the Loons’ greatest ever goalscorer? MNUFC fans would love to see that iconic bow-and-arrow celebration a few more times. Regardless of what is yet unwritten, one thing is for sure: Robin Lod is a legendary Loon.