Picking an All-Star Finland XI to Mark 100 Years of Finnish Independence

The 6th December 2017 marks 100 years since Finland declared independence from the Russian empire, spying an opportunity to break free following the Communist revolution of 1917. Finland is not a country particularly known for its football prowess, with international sporting success often more associated with ice hockey, motor racing, distance running and skiing, yet several famous Finnish footballers have competed at the highest level over the years. To mark a century of Finnish...

GK - Jussi Jaaskelainen

Jussi Jaaskelainen spent 13-and-a-half seasons as Bolton number one between 1998 and 2012, with the vast majority of those coming in the Premier League. He barely missed a game during that time and became one of the top goalkeepers in England.


Having also played European football with Bolton, Jaaskelainen extended his Premier League career by another couple of years after signing with West Ham in 2012.

DF - Niklas Moisander

Hailing from the south western city of Turku, Niklas Moisander won three Eredivisie titles during his time in the Netherlands, first under the guidance of Louis van Gaal at AZ and later twice with Frank de Boer at Ajax, bringing with it Champions League experience.


The centre-back, currently Finland's international captain, later joined Sampdoria in Italy, before heading to Germany with Werder Bremen for whom he still plays at the age of 32.

DF - Sami Hyypia

Sami Hyypia played over 450 games for Liverpool during a 10-year spell at Anfield and established himself as one of the best defenders and leaders in the Premier League.


The Finn joined the Reds from Dutch side Willem II in 1999 for just over £2.5m and was an instant regular. By the time he left Liverpool at the age of 35 in 2009, Hyypia had won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League.

DF - Hannu Tihinen

Although perhaps remembered in the Premier League for a short loan spell at West Ham, centre-back Hannu Tihinen won league titles in three different countries during his career - Finland, Belgium and Switzerland, with HJK, Anderlecht, FC Zurich respectively.


Tihinen played Champions League football in three of his four seasons with Anderlecht, as well representing HJK in 1998/99 as the only Finnish club to have yet reached the group stage.

MF - Roman Eremenko

Born in Moscow, midfielder Roman Eremenko moved to Finland at a young age and has starred abroad for Dynamo Kyiv, Rubin Kazan and CSKA Moscow at the highest level during his career to date.


His proven quality is not in doubt, but 30-year-old Eremenko is currently serving a two-year FIFA ban after testing positive for cocaine. He will be eligible to return at the end of 2018.

MF - Teemu Tainio

Hailing from Lapland, defensive midfielder Teemu Tainio became known to European audiences on a wider scale after starring for a talented Auxerre team for eight years, twice win the Coupe de France and playing in the Champions League.


He later moved to the Premier League after signing for Tottenham and subsequently also played for Sunderland, Birmingham, Ajax and New York Red Bulls.

MF - Jari Litmanen

Finland's greatest ever player, Jari Litmanen was a Champions League winner with Ajax in 1995. He had scored an impressive 36 goals for the Amsterdam giants during the 1993/94 campaign and finished with 129 goals in 226 games by the time Barcelona signed him in 1999.


Injuries ultimately hampered his time at Camp Nou, but he later joined Liverpool in 2001, with injury again a factor in his limited impact, before returning to Ajax in 2002.


Litmanen was a Finland international for an incredible 21 years from his senior debut in 1989 to his final game in 2010, and is the national team's all-time record holder in both appearances (137) and goals (32).

MF - Joonas Kolkka

Versatile winger Joonas Kolkka was well travelled during his career, which also yielded 98 caps at senior international level, having played for clubs in the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, England and briefly the United States, as well as his native Finland.


Kolkka scored three times for Crystal Palace during the 2004/05 Premier League campaign, having earlier won two Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven.

FW - Jonatan Johansson

Curly-haired striker Jonatan Johansson remains the joint second most capped Finnish player of all time alongside Sami Hyypia and spent five-and-a-half years with a strong Charlton Athletic side in the Premier League between 2000 and 2006.


Johansson had earlier impressed in Scotland with Rangers and scored 11 times in his debut season in England, helping Charlton to 9th and 7th place finishes during his spell there.

FW - Mikael Forssell

Only Jari Litmanen has ever scored more goals for the Finnish national team than former Chelsea, Birmingham and Crystal Palace striker Mikael Forssell.


A teenage Forssell joined Chelsea from HJK in 1998, getting his real start in English football on loan at Palace in the second tier. He later proved his ability to score goals in the Premier League after netting 17 times for Birmingham during the 2003/04 campaign.

FW - Teemu Pukki

Now playing his club football in Denmark with Brondby, Kotka-born striker Teemu Pukki is the current leading light of the Finland national team.


The 27-year-old has previously spent time with Sevilla, Schalke and Celtic, but has really found his stride since joining Brondby in 2015. Last season, Pukki scored 25 goals in all competitions and has netted eight so far in 2017/18.

Honourable Mentions

Antti Niemi (pictured): The goalkeeper enjoyed a reputation as a fine shot stopper during Premier League spells with Southampton and Fulham. He also played for Hearts in Scotland.


Petri Pasanen: This brief Portsmouth loanee won trophies with Ajax, Werder Bremen and Red Bull Salzburg during his career, as well as playing in the 2009 UEFA Cup final.


Kasper Hamalainen: The 31-year-old midfielder has won three Polish league titles in the last three seasons with Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw, having started his career in Sweden.


Mixu Paatelainen: The Dundee United, Bolton and Hibernian cult hero enjoyed a 20-year playing career during which he scored 174 goals. He later became national team coach.

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