To Saku, Abukar, Joel and the rest of the team.
From the comfort of my home in Denmark I watched you take on Italy, Norway and Portugal in the European Championships in Vaasa and Seinäjoki. I wish I could have been there, of course, supporting you like the rest of the Finnish fans but I had my own responsibilities as I’m sure you can understand.
However, via livestream I watched you guys play and I liked what I saw. I had a big smile on my face after your first game against Italy which you dominated in an untypical Finnish way. You were brave in possession and active and energetic when defending. You played like I want us in the men’s A national team to play.
But football is cruel, which I’m sure you’ll know by now. The best team doesn’t always win. It’s usually the most effective, the most cynical, the most street-smart team that comes out on top. And I’m sure we can agree that Finnish football as a whole is not there yet. We need to learn how to grind out results. We need to develop a stronger winning mentality that you so desperately need to be successful.
Although the results might not have been what you were hoping for no one can blame you for not giving it your all. I saw a group of footballers willing to sacrifise for each other. I saw players that will be ready to replace me in a few years time. The day when my legs don’t carry me anymore or when my coach says it’s time to stop then I’m positive that you guys will be ready to take over and carry the torch.
I hope you’ll use this experience as fuel as you move forward in your respective careers. Because let’s be honest, this is just the beginning for this group in the national team. I can’t wait to watch you play at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki against the likes of Mbappe, Rashford and Dembele in a few years time. And I’m confident that by then, you’ll have mastered the art of not only playing well but also getting the results you deserve.
Thank you for the memories. You should be proud of yourselves.