Football is the most popular sport in the world. It is estimated to have as many as 3.5 billion fans around the globe, and some 265 million people play it. In a small country in the Northern Europe, Finland, football is only the fourth sport in popularity, preceded by ice hockey, track & field, and cross-country skiing. But that does not mean Finns would not love this sport.
And the more success we get, the more popular it gets. Last year for the first time in history, Finland was able to participate in the European Championship. And long before that, Finland has had some amazing individuals who have risen to the top of the football world. You may already know some of them…
Below you can read who the best Finnish football players of all time are, as well as a brief overview of the players’ careers and what they have done after their careers. Many of the players have continued with football and have also collaborated with Finnish instant casinos and betting sites.
Jari Litmanen was the first. He started his international career in Ajax in 1992 and had a very successful seven years there, including first place in UEFA Champions League in 1995. After that, he played in Barcelona and Liverpool, to name just a few. Unfortunately, during the latter part of his career, he faced numerous injuries and withdrew from the field in 2012.
Even though Jari’s playing career is over, he is still known by his nickname “King” in football. He has also by no means retired. In 2015 Litmanen wrote his own biography called Litmanen 10.
He has also collaborated with several casino operators. In 2013 Betsson announced an agreement with Litmanen, and he worked with Betsson for almost two years, after which he signed a contract with the Finnish government-owned betting company Veikkaus.
Today he acts as Unibet’s responsible gaming ambassador. Litmanen’s expertise can also be heard in Unibet’s football content, e.g., In the King’s Speech podcast.
Sami Hyypiä is one of Finland’s most successful soccer players. He is, along with Jari Litmanen, the few Finnish players to have won the Champions League. Hyypiä also played more than 100 matches on the Finnish national team.
Born in 1973, Hyypiä started his career in 1989 in Pallo-Peikot in Voikkaa. In 1999, he moved to Liverpool, and in the same year, he was also chosen as Finland’s footballer of the year for the first time. After ten years at Liverpool, Hyypiä continued to play in Bayer Leverkusen between 2009 and 2011.
In May 2011, Hyypiä announced his decision to end his playing career after the season. He immediately joined the coaching staff of the Finnish national team, and in the summer of 2012, he also started as Bayer Leverkusen’s assistant coach.
In 2017 betting company Betsson announced that this Finnish football legend had joined the company’s expert team as an international ambassador. His duties included, among other things, analyzing matches and hosting game trips.
Mikael Forssell, born in Steinfurt, Germany, is a Finnish former football player, a striker by position. Forssell played 87 A national matches in the Finnish national team and scored 29 goals between 1999 and 2014. He has played the sixth most matches in the Finnish national team and scored the third most goals.
At the end of 1998, Forssell moved to the English football team Chelsea, after which he also played, among others, for Crystal Palace, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Birmingham City, Hannover 96, and Leeds United.
For his last playing career year, Forssell signed a one-year contract with HIFK, where he scored eight goals in 25 matches. He announced the end of his playing career in May 2018.
Nowadays, Mikael works as the head coach of HJK’s A youth team. In one interview, Forssell said that one of his biggest dreams is to be Chelsea’s head coach one day.
Teemu Pukki, born in 1990, is a Finnish football player who plays as a striker for Norwich City of the English Premier League and the Finnish national team.
Pukki has also played in Sevilla and Celtic, to name a few. At the beginning of the 2019–2020 season, Pukki was chosen as the English Premier League’s player of the month. Pukki was selected as Athlete of the Year 2019 at the Finnish Sports Gala.
Pukki was part of the Finnish national team last year when Finland was able to participate in the European Championship for the first time in history. He also moved to the top of the Finnish national team’s all-time goalscoring statistics by scoring both goals in the Kazakhstan-Finland match on October 12, 2021, when the match ended 0–2.
Teemu Pukki is Norwich’s best goal scorer and the most valuable player. His importance to the club is immense, and the fans love him.
Last but not least is Lukas Hradecky, a Finnish football player born in 1989. He plays as a goalkeeper in the German Bundesliga Bayer Leverkusen and the Finnish A national team and serves as the captain of both teams.
In the A national team, Hradecky debuted at the age of 20 in 2010 against Estonia, and he established his place in the national team’s regular crew in 2011. Hradecký was also chosen as Athlete of the Year 2020 at the Finnish Sports Gala. Like Pukki, Hradecky was also part of the Finnish national team last year in UEFA Euro.
Even though Lukas Hradecky is known above all as a great soccer goalkeeper, he is also good at poker. He has participated in several poker tournaments in Finland and abroad. For example, Hradecky finished second in the Texas Hold’em tournament held at the Helsinki Casino in 2019 and claimed the prize pool of 8,886 euros from the tournament.