Apart from Germany's Schalke and Scotland's Celtic, Pukki has always been part of clubs that have been usually swept under the radar.
International football is not often something a football fan might think of during a regular course of a season. Some even view it with resentment as international breaks often disrupt the flow of a domestic and continental club football season. However, when an international tournament is on the horizon, the situation is a bit different. Tournaments like the World Cup, Euro Cup, or Copa America are somewhat special, especially for the players of countries that are not powerhouses in world football. A lot of these countries manage to produce one or two players that have monumental performances in such competitions. One such player that fans should be looking forward to is Finland’s Teemu Pukki.
Pukki has never been one who has played for a big club. Apart from Germany’s Schalke and Scotland’s Celtic, he has always been part of clubs that have been usually swept under the radar. Thus, his goalscoring record has always evaded the public eye. Being part of a country that is not exactly a regular in international competitions also does not help that cause. What does help that cause is showcasing one’s talent in one of the biggest leagues in the world, albeit being part of a small club.
The Finnish striker exploded into the public eye, only for a short while, during his time in the English Premier League (EPL/PL) with Norwich City FC. The 31-year-old had hit a purple patch when he was scoring game in, game out for quite a number of weeks. Fans of other clubs had started to get wary of Pukki and with good reason. Despite not being a top striker at a big club, his goal-scoring record speaks for itself. He is a man of immense talent and has that deadly striker’s instinct in front of goal. What he might not receive as much is supply. That might also be the reason why one might look at his stats and write him off as not much of a threat.
What people fail to see often is that the Finnish striker has lead Norwich to the EPL twice in three years. This piece of information is significant because England’s second division, the EFL Championship, is more difficult to win than the EPL itself. It is perhaps the most difficult and competitive league in the world, with the number of matches exceeding 40. And that is without counting domestic cup competitions.
In his first season with Norwich City, Pukki scored an incredible 30 goals in 46 games. They topped the EFL Championship that season and were promoted to the Premier League. The Finnish striker was deemed as one of the club’s most valuable players. The following season in the EPL was one to forget as the Canaries were relegated, but Pukki had bagged 11 goals in 38 matches. In 2021, Norwich once again topped the Championship and Teemu Pukki was the main man yet again. This time, he scored 26 goals in 42 appearances.
Ahead of the Euros, the Finnish fans will put their faith in the 31-year-old Norwich City striker to take their nation as far as possible. Finland have been drawn a challenging, yet fair group for the tournament. They will be in group B alongside the likes Belgium, Denmark, and Russia.
Obviously, Belgium and Russia are the favorites to finish first and second respectively. However, Euro 2020 will see four third-placed teams qualify to the round of 16. If Finland can pull off a win and have a decent goal difference, they can just make it to the knockout rounds.
If the team plays as a formidable unit and Teemu Pukki hits top form just like he does with Norwich, then they might even be able to pull off some upsets in the group and finish in the top two. Once in the knockout stages, if they could manage to eliminate some of the bigger teams from the competition, then this Finnish side might as well go down in the history books.