Teemu Pukki: From failures in Europe to Finland great – the fall and rise of the Norwich striker

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From Gary Rose
BBC Sport
Shortly Finland prime minister Antti Rinne shook the hand of France president Emmanuel Macron got up from his chair in the stately Elysee Palace in Paris presented a gift to him.
This is a Teemu Pukki football shirt.
This is Finland strikers and your in-form Norwich reputation at the instant that his title makes it onto the schedule of top-level political meetings, alongside trade deals and problems.
Considering joining the Canaries on the summer of 2018, with 44 goals, Pukki is arguably among the players in world football right now.
However, it was not always that way for a player once described asnot a whole disaster after a less-than-impressive stint in Celtic.
As Pukki appears to make it six goals in seven games for Finland if they confront Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday (17:00 BST) and transfer them a step closer to qualifying for their first important tournament, BBC Sport charts the fall and rise of Norwichs talismanic striker.
The tale of pukki is not one of a participant who blossomed in life but rather a participant who had the ability however, until recently, didnt find himself the right situation.
Having amazed in his homeland from an early age – that he made his debut for his hometown group in 16 and was named Finlands Young Player of the Year in his first year – Pukki caught the eye of several foreign scouts while playing for Finland in an Under-17s championship in Portugal.
What hed afterward was his extraordinary time in his runs behind the defence, says Flemming Berg, who had been at the tournament working as a scout for Chelsea. Hes those qualities now and he had them as a teenager.
Together with the career of arguably Finlands greatest player heading towards the end, clubs were on the watch for the upcoming superstar. Pukki was invited for a trial Chelsea and although nothing came of it was also rumoured interest from Sevilla and Juventus.
It was , in 2008, Sevilla was combined by Pukki.
Pukki possibly fell victim to becoming too far too soon. He arrived at the town as a year old, living with his mum at a while being not able 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 discovered himself even more from favour. He returned to Finland to try and kick-start his career.
Following a successful spell in HJK Helsinki, Pukki was again offered the opportunity for playing in one of the big leagues of Europe this time with German club Schalke.
Despite scoring two in his debut, his progress was again hindered by situation. Ahead of all Pukki were Spanish legend Raul and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, whod go on to enjoy one of the most profitable seasons of his career with 48 goals in 48 games. Pukki was up against it from the beginning.
A movement to Celtic followed there that he playing out of place and fought with the physicality of the league.
The matter with him at Celtic was that he was played the left hand side, he was not played at an essential function or at least not very often, former Celtic and Norwich striker Chris Sutton tells BBC Sport. That certainly did not help – hes a number nine plus hes such good movement.
Keeping tabs on his improvement was Berg, who currently worked as a scout for Brondby.
The matter with Teemu is, even though he did not score a lot of goals in Schalke and Celtic, his goals-per-minutes ratio was really very good at those clubs, he states.
The figures surely spoke for themselves. In Schalke that his goals-per-minutes ratio was almost on par with his record in Norwich, while at Celtic he still averaged around a goal every other game.
I knew that his agent and thought I would attempt to persuade him Brondby, adds Berg. I did not think there could be a chance since it was a tiny step down but they stated yes.
A measure down it could have been ultimately it was the move that created Pukki the player he is today.
At the club hed come to function under German coach Alexander Zorniger, that believed Pukki had to become fitter he would do perform that is more defensive – to drop deep, pick the ball up and help assemble strikes.
I was probably a bit idle, Pukki told the Eastern Daily Press earlier this year. I wasnt performing the defensive work I should have done, and that is one thing Zorniger educated me. While I do defensive work nicely it always helps my offensive game.
All potential which had laid dormant was published. Pukki scored once again and 48 goals in 90 games for Brondby curiosity about his services had been large.
Unable to agree a new contract in Brondby, several clubs expressed an interest but it was Norwich who proposed the most appealing deal to Pukki given departure style of football, the most expressive that the Canaries played that suited his game longer.
After scoring 29 goals in 43 Championship games to assist Norwich win promotion he has six goals in eight matches with Norwich continued to maintain faith in the system that has functioned and Pukki well.
Am I surprised by how well he has done? Yes Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer tells BBC Sport.
Hes had a very good beginning from the Premier League but the task now is to allow him to maintain that. If youre able to find a person to score you 15 Premier league goals youve a good chance of staying up. Together with six goals he is well on his way into that.
Pukkis shape during the last year has seen his fame in his eponymous soar.
He has a showcased on the front pages of magazines and papers while his goalscoring exploits – and Norwichs promotion – have given TV bosses.
The performances of Pukki have led to be shown although liverpool are definitely the most popular team in the country.
Tero Vaatainen is part of a group of fans calledCanaries, who gather to see Norwich matches whenever they can.
Right now hes massive, he tells BBC Sport. After each Norwich match theres one story about it in all the newspapers, focusing on the way Pukki played.
He is getting to Sami Hyypia and Jari Litmanen degree in terms of a popular player in Finland.
1 thing that would raise Pukki to the exact same level as those two would be when he could score the goals to flame Finland to Euro 2020.
Tuesday Finland sponsor Armenia. Qualification would be all but guaranteed by victories from both of those games for Markku Kanervas squad.
It would induce him closer to exceeding Litmanen because the record goalscorer of Finland. Pukki has 12 behind the Finland legend, 20 objectives.
I think that are the clinching stage, adds Vaatainen. Hed go past Litmanen and Hyypia and a few of the others.
From top leagues to be on the verge of possibly becoming the biggest player of Finland is, by the standards of anyone, be some turnaround.
If you take a look at his or her back-story, there have been quite a few clubs who have really fancied him and it has not happened because of him personally BBC pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson states.
Thats the thing – eventually, if you have got that ability, which he has, it will happen for you. And obviously it has happened for him in the end.
Additional reporting by Chris Bevan
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