Teemu Pukki: From failures in Europe to Finland great – the fall and rise of the Norwich striker
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From Gary Rose
Shortly after finishing a conversation on fighting climate change, Finland prime minister Antti Rinne shook the hands of France president Emmanuel Macron got up in the stately Elysee Palace in Paris and then presented him with a present.
This is a Teemu Pukki soccer shirt.
Such is Finland strikers and your in-form Norwich reputation at the moment that his name makes it on the agenda of meetings, alongside commerce deals and problems.
Considering joining the Canaries at the summer of 2018, Together with 44 goals, Pukki is now among the players in world football right now.
Nevertheless, it wasnt always that way to get a participant once described asnot a whole disaster after having a less-than-impressive stint at Celtic.
As Pukki looks to make it six goals in seven games for Finland whenever they confront Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday (17:00 BST) and move them a step closer to qualifying for their first major tournament, BBC Sport charts the fall and rise of Norwichs talismanic striker.
The tale of pukki is not one of a participant who blossomed later in life but rather a participant who consistently had the capability however, until recently, didnt find himself the correct situation.
Having stunned in his biography from a young age – he made his debut for his hometown team in 16 and has been appointed Finlands Young Player of the Year in his first season – Pukki caught the eye of numerous foreign scouts while playing for Finland in an Under-17s tournament in Portugal.
What he had afterward was his amazing timing in his runs on the other side of the defence, says Flemming Berg, who had been at that championship employed as a scout for Chelsea. Hes those qualities today and he had them as a teenager.
Clubs were on the watch for the next celebrity, with the career of Finlands greatest player heading towards the ending. Pukki was invited to get a trial with Chelsea and was also rumoured interest from Juventus and 23, although nothing came of it.
It was the side that made their movement and, in 2008, Pukki joined Sevilla.
Pukki possibly fell victim to getting too far. He arrived in the Spanish city as a year old, living with his mommy in a tiny apartment while being unable to talk the language.
After a year or two at the youth group of the La Liga side, the manager who signed him Diego Rodriguez – was sacked and Pukki found himself even more from favour. He returned to try and kick-start his livelihood.
After a spell in HJK Helsinki, Pukki was offered the opportunity for playing in one of the big leagues of Europe – this time with German club Schalke.
His progress was again hindered by situation despite scoring in his debut. Ahead of Pukki were Spanish legend Raul and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, whod go on to appreciate one of their seasons of their career with 48 goals in 48 games. Pukki was off it from the outset.
A move to Celtic followed but there that he playing out of place and struggled with the leagues physicality.
The thing with him Celtic was that he was played the left hand side, he was not played in a central function or not very often, former Celtic and Norwich striker Chris Sutton tells BBC Sport. That certainly did not help – hes a number nine plus he has such excellent movement.
Keeping tabs on his progress was Berg, who was employed as a scout for Brondby.
The thing with Teemu is, although he did not score a lot of goals at Schalke and Celtic, his goals-per-minutes ratio was really very good at these clubs, he states.
The statistics certainly spoke on their own. While up to a goal every other game he still averaged in Celtic In Schalke that his goals-per-minutes ratio was with his album at Norwich.
I understood that his agent and thought Id attempt to get him Brondby, adds Berg. I didnt think there would be a chance as it was a small step down but they stated yes.
A measure down it can have been ultimately it was the move that created Pukki the player.
At the club hed come to function under German coach Alexander Zorniger, who believed Pukki had to become more healthy so that he could do job – pick the ball up, to fall deep and help assemble strikes.
I was probably a bit idle, Pukki told the Eastern Daily Press earlier this year. I was not performing the defensive work I should get done, and that is 1 thing Zorniger educated me. While I do defensive function nicely it always helps my offensive game.
Unexpectedly, all that potential that had laid back was published. Pukki scored after again and 48 goals in 90 games for Brondby interest in his services had been high.
Unable to agree that a new contract at Brondby, many clubs expressed an interest but it was Norwich who suggested the most attractive deal for Pukki, especially given departure style of football, the expressive that the Canaries played that suited his game longer.
Hes six goals in eight games with Norwich continuing to keep faith in the system which has served so well and Pukki, them after scoring 29 goals in 43 Championship matches to assist Norwich win promotion to the Premier League.
Am I surprised by how well hes done? Yes, Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer tells BBC Sport.
Hes had an excellent beginning from the Premier League but the task now is to allow him to maintain that. You have a good prospect of staying up if it is possible to find a person to score you 15 Premier league goals then. Together with six goals he is well on his way into that.
Pukkis shape over the last year has witnessed his fame.
Hes got a featured on front pages of magazines and newspapers lately while his goalscoring exploits – the promotion of and Norwich – have given TV supervisors in Finland one or two troubles.
Liverpool are undoubtedly the hottest team in the country however Pukkis performances have led to a rise in need for Norwich matches to be shown live.
Tero Vaatainen is a part of a group of fans calledFinnish Canaries, who collect at the city of Tampere to watch Norwich matches they could.
Right now he is massive, he tells BBC Sport. After each Norwich match theres at least one story on it in most of the newspapers, focusing on how Pukki played.
He is almost getting to Sami Hyypia and Jari Litmanen degree concerning a favorite participant in Finland.
Whether he can score the goals to flame Finland one thing that would raise Pukki would be.
Tuesday Finland host Armenia. Victories from both of these games will all but guarantee automatic eligibility for the squad of Markku Kanerva.
It would push him closer to exceeding Litmanen because the record goalscorer of Finland. Pukki has 12 supporting the Finland legend, 20 objectives.
I feel that would be the clinching point, adds Vaatainen. He would go beyond Litmanen and Hyypia and some of the others
From a participant who seemed destined to fail in his quest to succeed in Europes top leagues into be on the point of possibly becoming Finlands biggest player would be, by anyones standards, be a few turnaround.
If you take a look at his or her back-story, thereve been a number of clubs that have really fancied him and it has not happened for him, BBC pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson says.
Thats the thing – eventually, if youve got that ability, which he has, it will happen to you personally. And of course its happened for him at the end.
Additional reporting by Chris Bevan
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