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

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By Gary Rose
BBC Sport
Shortly Finland prime minister Antti Rinne shook France president Emmanuel Macrons hand, got up at the Elysee Palace in Paris and presented him.
This is a Teemu Pukki soccer shirt.
This is your in-form Norwich and also Finland strikers standing at the moment that his name makes it on the agenda of meetings, together with issues and trade deals.
Since joining the Canaries in the summer of 2018 Together with 44 goals, Pukki is still among the most prolific players in world football right now.
Nevertheless, it wasnt always that way for a player once described asnot a whole disaster after having a less-than-impressive stint in Celtic.
As Pukki looks to make it six goals in seven matches for Finland when 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.
Pukkis narrative is perhaps not one of a participant who blossomed later in life but rather a player who had the capability however did not find himself the situation to flourish.
Having amazed in his biography from an early age – he made his debut for his hometown team in 16 and was 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 hed then was his amazing timing in his runs behind the defence, says Flemming Berg, who had been at the championship employed as a scout for Chelsea. He has those qualities now and he had them as a teen.
Together with the career of Finlands biggest player, Jari Litmanen, heading towards the ending, clubs were on the lookout for the upcoming Finnish celebrity. Pukki was invited to get a trial Chelsea and there was also rumoured interest from Sevilla and Juventus although nothing came from it.
It was , in 2008, Sevilla was combined by Pukki.
Pukki possibly fell victim to getting too far too soon. He came in the Spanish town as a hopeful 17 year old, living with his mum in a tiny flat while being not able to speak the language.
After a couple of years at the youth team of the La Liga side, the manager who signed him Diego Rodriguez – had been sacked and Pukki discovered himself even more. He returned to attempt to kick-start his career.
After a spell in HJK Helsinki, Pukki was offered the chance of playing one of Europes big leagues this time with German club Schalke.
Despite scoring on his debut, his progress was again hindered by situation. Ahead of Pukki were Spanish legend Raul and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who would go on to appreciate among their most prolific seasons of his career. Pukki was up against it from the beginning.
A go to Celtic followed there he carrying out of place and fought with the leagues physicality.
The thing with him at Celtic was that he had been played off the left hand side, he wasnt played in a central character or not very frequently, former Celtic and Norwich striker Chris Sutton tells BBC Sport. That certainly did not help – hes a number nine and he has such excellent movement
Keeping tabs on his progress, nevertheless, was Berg, who currently worked as a scout for Brondby.
The matter with Teemu would be, although he did not score many goals at Schalke and Celtic, his goals-per-minutes ratio was actually very good at these clubs, he states.
The numbers spoke for themselves. While in the Celtic he averaged up to a goal every other game at Schalke that his goals-per-minutes ratio was with his record in Norwich.
I knew that his representative and thought Id try and get him Brondby, adds Berg. I didnt believe there would be a chance because it was a small step down but they said yes.
A step down it may have been ultimately it was the move that created Pukki the player he has become today.
In the club he would come to work under trainer Alexander Zorniger, that believed Pukki needed to become fitter that he could do defensive perform – pick the ball up, to fall deep and help assemble attacks.
I was probably a bit idle, Pukki informed the Eastern Daily Press earlier this season. I was not performing the defensive work I should get done, and that is one thing Zorniger educated me. When I do defensive function well it always helps my offensive game.
Suddenly, all potential that had apparently laid dormant for decades was released. Pukki scored once more and 48 goals in 90 games for Brondby curiosity about his services had been large.
Not able to agree a new contract at Brondby clubs expressed an interest but it was Norwich who proposed the most attractive deal to Pukki, especially given the most expressive style of football the Canaries played suited his game more.
After scoring 29 goals in 43 Championship games to help Norwich win promotion hes six goals in eight matches with Norwich continued to maintain faith in the system that has functioned and Pukki well.
Am I amazed by how well he has done? Yes, Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer tells BBC Sport.
He has had an excellent start from the Premier League but the task is to allow him to maintain that. If you can find a person to score you 15 Premier league goals you have a very good probability of staying up. With six goals already he is well on his way into this.
Pukkis form during the last year has seen his fame in his eponymous soar.
He has a featured on front pages of magazines and papers in recent months while his goalscoring exploits – and Norwichs promotion – have awarded TV managers in Finland one or two concerns.
Pukkis performances have contributed to a growth in demand for Norwich matches to be shown although liverpool are by far the hottest team in the nation.
Tero Vaatainen is part of a set of supporters known asCanaries, who gather to see Norwich matches whenever they can.
Right now hes massive, he tells BBC Sport. After each Norwich match theres at least one story about it in most of the newspapers, focusing on how Pukki played.
He is getting to Sami Hyypia and Jari Litmanen degree in terms of a favorite player in Finland.
If he can score the goals to fire Finland into Euro 27, 1 thing which would raise Pukki would be.
Next 14, Finland sponsor Armenia. Victories from both of these games would all but guarantee eligibility for the squad of Markku Kanerva.
It would also induce him closer to exceeding Litmanen because Finlands record goalscorer. Pukki has 20 objectives.
I feel that are the clinching stage, adds Vaatainen. He would go beyond Litmanen and Hyypia and a few of the others
From top leagues to become on the verge of perhaps becoming Finland player would be, by the standards of anyone, be a turnaround.
If you look at his back-story, there have been a number of clubs who have fancied him and its not happened for him BBC pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson states.
That is the thing – finally, if you have got that ability, which undoubtedly he has, it will happen for you. And obviously its happened for him at the end.
Additional reporting by Chris Bevan
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