'I hope it happens in the shirt of Norwich City' - one Finnish legend on another
Legendary striker Jari Litmanen says Norwich City have provided his former international team-mate Teemu Pukki with the final piece of his footballing jigsaw.
And the Finnish great wants to see that rewarded with promotion to the Premier League, for the sake of both player and club.
Pukki’s career has taken him from Kotkan in his home country to Sevilla back to Finland with HJK, Schalke in Germany, Celtic and Brondby in Denmark – and now he is setting the Championship on fire with 23 league goals in 30 Championship games.
Litmanen, who played in the top flight with Liverpool in 2001-02, says Pukki – a free transfer signing last summer – is proving the doubters wrong.
“The move to Celtic taught him a lot,” said Litmanen in an interview with Finnish media. “Pukki is not a traditional ‘wrestling’ centre forward. In Scotland Celtic were superior and faced very low defensive lines every week, which forced their strikers to wrestle. There were no counter-attacks or chances to make runs behind the line. But Pukki learned a lot and understood what kind of physics it takes to play in Britain.
“When Pukki moved to the tough and wearing Championship, many people were first doubtful. Pukki proved everyone wrong.
“At the moment Pukki’s football is a great combination of everything he’s experienced – the humbleness and unselfishness from Kotka, the scoring skill and easy touch he learned in Spain, the self-confidence from his time at HJK in Finland, the moral and defending from Germany, the tough physical lessons from Scotland, and the clinical finishing mastered at Bröndby.
“In addition to experience, the fact that Pukki has retained his good-spirited, optimistic self, has made him a marked man. A striker, who can become the top scorer and lead Norwich to the Premier League.”
Can Pukki write his name into City’s history books?
While Litmanen, 48, would love to see Pukki and Norwich go up, there was also a warning.
“The promotion battle is tough,” he said. “If there is no promotion, Pukki will surely get offers from clubs in the Premier League. I believe and hope that Pukki will become a Finnish striker in the Premier League in the footsteps of Mixu Paatelainen, Jonatan Johansson, Mikael Forssell and Shefki Kuqi.
“I hope it happens in the shirt of Norwich City, because that is the club where all the pieces of the puzzle have truly come together.”