Culbokie athlete named among top 50 best American football players in Europe
Matthew Daltrey has been named among the top 50 American football players in Europe after an outstanding season playing for Vienna Vikings in the European League of Football.
It is quite an accolade for the Culbokie athlete, considering he didn’t really take up the sport seriously until he went to university.
However, it has taken him on a career which has seen him play for semi professional teams in Germany and Finland, before playing for his first professional team in Austria.
Daltrey (26) who plays as a centre for Vienna Vikings, says being named as the 44th best player this season in the league is a huge honour.
He says that he is pleased that he has been recognised for his efforts during the 2023 league campaign.
He said: “It is quite an honour to be named among the top players in the league.
“With the league, it technically means I am the 44th best player in Europe and that is quite cool to think about.”
Daltrey, a former pupil at Fortrose Academy, only played American football for a short period during his childhood when he ended up playing different sports instead.
But when he went to university in England, he discovered his love of the sport and it has taken him on his journey to become a professional athlete.
“I did go to the Highland Wildcats when I was younger, but I ended up concentrating on rugby instead,” said Daltrey.
“But then I went to the University of Leicester to study history and there was an open day for its American football team.
“Things took off from there and afterwards I signed for a semi professional football team in Geissen in Germany before moving on to Helsinki in Finland.
“From there, I was offered a contract with the Vienna Vikings and have been playing in a professional league since.”
The European League of Football (ELF) is a professional American football league which was established in 2021.
The league currently features 17 teams which are based in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.
But it is planned to expand the league in the future for more teams to enter.
Daltrey signed for the Vienna Vikings last year and experienced success straight away when they were crowned league champions after beating Hamburg Sea Devils 27-15 in the final held in Klagenfurt.
During the 2023 campaign, Vienna Vikings went through the regular season undefeated winning all 12 of their matches in the Eastern Conference.
They came out on top in a division of six teams which included Berlin Thunder, Panthers Wroclaw, Fehervar Enthroners, Leipzig Kings and Prague Lions with a perfect record.
But in the semi finals they lost their crown when they suffered a 40-33 defeat to Stuttgart Surge.
Despite a disappointing campaign this season, Daltrey says he is enjoying being part of the Vikings set up and his experience so far.
“I first signed for the Vienna Vikings in 2022 and we went on to become the champions that year.
“In this campaign, we were undefeated in the regular season and it was frustrating to lose in the semi finals.
“It is great to be playing in the ELF, It is the first fully professional league in Europe since NFL Europe in the 1990’s and 2000’s
“It has blown up and changed the landscape of American football in Europe since it started in 2021.
“There are a lot of German teams in the league, but it features teams from countries across Europe.
“During this season, we were in a conference with teams from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Austria and a couple of German teams.
“Last season we went to Spain and also played in Turkey and it has been great to play in a number of countries.”
Vienna Vikings play in the Generali Arena, a 17,500 seater stadium which is also the home of Austrian Bundesliga club Austria Vienna.
Having previously played American football in Germany and Finland, Daltrey already had experience of playing and living in different countries before relocating to Vienna.
He says he is in a city he loves living in and with a club he enjoys playing for.
“The way it works is that the team pretty much paid for everything. I had an apartment set up and they flew me out so it was a pretty painless experience.
“Vienna is a beautiful city and it can get really hot in the summer.
“As a typical Scottish man, we don’t tend to love the heat too much.
“But I am enjoying playing and living in Vienna a lot.”
Daltrey is also coming to the attention of the Great Britain squad to play in international matches.
However, the main thing that Daltrey is looking to do is keep being a successful professional American football player and look to achieve more success with Vienna.
He says that he would love to win the ELF championship with the Vikings again and believes that they have the team to do it.
“I want to keep playing where I am in Vienna and keep representing Scotland in American football,” said Daltrey.
“I am the only Scottish player to play in the European League of Football since it was established.
“I am just taking everything in my stride.”