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The Finland national football team represents Finlandmarker in international football competitions and is controlled by the Football Association of Finland.

The Finnish national team has never qualified for a finals tournament of the World Cup or the European Championships, but has made four Olympic tournament appearances. It was considered one of the weakest teams in Europe in past decades; especially at a time when many of today's smallest nations didn't yet compete in international football. Finland is one of the few European countries where football is not the most popular spectator sport, and the game has traditionally been played on an amateur basis in the country. Only in the last decade – after the Bosman ruling and the removal of foreign quotas in the EU region – have Finnish players had significant opportunities to play in the continent's top leagues. Today, nearly all regular members of the national team play outside of Finland.

History

The Football Association of Finland was founded as early as 1907 and became a member of FIFAmarker in 1908, despite the fact that at that time Finland was still an autonomous grand duchy of the Russian Empiremarker and didn't gain independence until 1917. Finland played its first international match on October 22, 1911, losing to neighboring Sweden 2-5 in Helsinkimarker.

A fourth place finish at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholmmarker still arguably ranks as the country's best ever achievement in international football. Finland beat Italy and Russia in the first two rounds before losing to Great Britain in the semi-finals. In the bronze medal match they were beaten 0-9 by the Netherlands. According to the story, the Finns were under the impression that the match would be a day later, so they had gone out celebrating the night before the match, and as a consequence were easily beaten. Finland's star player Eino Soinio, aged only 17 at the time, was chosen to the all-star team of the tournament by Swedishmarker paper Idrottsbladet.

Finland also took part in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlinmarker, but was beaten by Peru in the first round. The country sought qualification for the World Cup for the first time in the 1938 event, but failed to score a single point. The fortunes of the team didn't improve much in the 1950s or 1960s: they were never near qualification, and didn't achieve their first win until 1965. Finland also took part in European Championship qualifying since the 1968 event, but had to wait for its first win until 1978. The 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki saw the hosts crash to Austria in the first round. Finland did, however, win the unofficial Nordic championship in 1952, 1964 and 1966.

The results of the team improved somewhat in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Finland missed out on qualification for Euro 1980 by just a point and for the 1986 World Cup by two points. Finland was invited to take part in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscowmarker after many Western countries announced they would boycott the games, but failed to progress from its group.

By the mid-1990s Finland started to have more players in high profile European leagues, led by the Ajax superstar Jari Litmanen. In 1996 Danishmarker Euro 1992 winning coach Richard Møller Nielsen was hired to take Finland to the 1998 World Cup. The team enjoyed mixed fortunes in the campaign, highpoints of which were a draw and a win away to Norway and Switzerland respectively. Going into the last match, Finland would have needed a win at home to Hungary to earn a place in the play-offs. They led the game 1-0 going into injury time, but scored an own goal, and once again the dreams of qualification were over. Møller Nielsen also tried to lead Finland to Euro 2000. In this campaign the Finns recorded a sensational win away to Turkey, but couldn't compete with Germany and Turkey in the long run.

Antti Muurinen succeeded Møller Nielsen as coach in 2000. He had arguably the most talented group of Finnish players ever at his disposal, including players such as Antti Niemi, Sami Hyypiä, Teemu Tainio and Mikael Forssell in addition to the legendary Litmanen. The team also performed quite well under him in qualification for the 2002 World Cup despite a difficult draw, earning two draws against Germany and a home draw with England as well as beating Greece 5-1 in Helsinki. In the end, however, England and Germany proved too strong, and the Finns finished third in the group, but were the only team in that group not to lose at home. Hopes were high going into qualification for Euro 2004 after the promising last campaign and friendly wins over the likes of Norway, Belgium and Portugal. However, Finland started the campaign by losing to Wales and Yugoslavia (later Serbia and Montenegro, now two separate nations). These losses were followed by two defeats by Italy, and a 3-0 home win over Serbia and Montenegro was little consolation, as the Finns finished fourth in the group. In qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finland failed to score a single point in six matches against the top three teams in their group, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Romania. Muurinen was sacked in June 2005, and he was replaced by caretaker Jyrki Heliskoski, but results didn't improve.

In August 2005 it was announced that Roy Hodgson would become the new Finland coach in 2006, and he started in the job in January of that year. Hodgson stepped down as manager after they failed to qualify for Euro 2008. His replacement was another Englishman, Stuart Baxter, who signed a contract until the end of the 2012 European Championship qualification campaign.

Finland was competing in Group A in qualification for UEFA Euro 2008, together with Portugal, Poland, Serbia, Belgium, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The team started the campaign very well, beating Poland 3-1 away and earning a 1-1 draw with Portugal at home. The Finns then gained four points from their difficult away ties against Armenia and Kazakhstan, drawing 0-0 with the former and beating the latter 2-0. On 15th of November, 2006 Finland beat Armenia 1-0 at home, thus remaining undefeated in the qualifying. In Finland's first match of 2007, they were in poor form when they lost against Azerbaijan 1-0, one of the worst matches in Finnish footballing history. On early June they lost to Serbia 2-0 at home, which many fans felt being the end of a real battle for qualification. But the next match was against Belgium and team Finland gained the trust of their fans back by winning 2-0 at home. This was followed by a series of wins including a 2-1 win against Azerbaijan, with the team needing to win against Portugal away from home needing to qualify. However, the match ended 0-0 meaning the team missed out on qualification. At the end of the group table the defeat to Azerbaijan made little difference, as it would have meant Finland losing out on away goals between them and Portugal when the teams met if they did win against Azerbaijan twice. However, the performance in qualifying seen the Finns gain their best-ever FIFA world ranking to date at the position of 33rd.

2010 World cup qualification has faired little better, with the team under new head coach Stuart Baxter not winning matches as consistently like they did under Roy Hodgson. However the team were within touching distance of a win over Euro 2008 finalists Germany, but had to settle for a 3-3 draw. The team again finished third in their group with 5 wins, three draws and two defeats. They were the only team in qualifying not to lose to Germany, but came close to a win in the second meeting only to concede an equaliser in stoppage time. Despite never qualifying for a major tournament so far in their history, the team have been regulars in the top 50 of the monthly FIFA world rankings.

Stadiums

Most of Finland's important home matches are played at the Helsinki Olympic Stadiummarker in the capital Helsinki. It has been Finland's principal home stadium ever since its construction was completed in 1938. Before that Pallokenttämarker in Helsinki was mainly used.

Today, some qualifying matches against lower profile opponents and some friendlies are hosted at the Ratina Stadionmarker in Tamperemarker. Helsinki's Finnair Stadiummarker, which has artificial turf, is also used for some friendlies and qualifiers.

Nickname

The team's nickname commonly used in Finland is "Huuhkajat" (Eurasian eagle-owls). This originates from an eagle-owl named Bubi living at the tower of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. He made his first appearance in a football game in 2007 in a game between Finland and Belgium, helping Finland win 2-0. Bubi was named Helsinki's "Resident of the Year" in 2007 and to the surprise of spectators, visited his own award ceremony on the stadium. The name of the Eurasian eagle-owl has its roots in the scientific name of the species (Bubo bubo) and legendary Finnish sports commentator Bror-Erik "Bubi" Wallenius.

World Cup record



European Championship record



2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

Current squad

Selections for the match against Wales and Germany on 10 and 14 October. Caps and goals as of 14 October 2009.







Coaching staff



Player records

Most capped players



Top goalscorers

  • Correct as of October 14, 2008
  • Players who are still active and available for selection are in bold.


Managers



See also



References



External links



#
Name
Career
Caps
Goals
1 Jari Litmanen 1989- 129 31
2 Sami Hyypiä 1992- 103 5
3 Ari Hjelm 1983-96 100 20
= Jonatan Johansson 1996- 100 22
5 Joonas Kolkka 1994- 97 11
6 Erkka Petäjä 1983-94 83 0
7 Arto Tolsa 1964-81 76 10
= Hannu Tihinen 1997- 76 5
9 Toni Kuivasto 1997- 73 1
10 Mika Nurmela 1992-2007 71 4
#
Name
Career
Goals
Caps
1 Jari Litmanen 1989- 31 129
2 Jonatan Johansson 1996- 22 100
3 Ari Hjelm 1983-96 20 100
4 Mikael Forssell 1999- 19 65
5 Mika-Matti Paatelainen 1986-2000 18 70
6 Verner Eklöf 1919-27 17 32
7 Aulis Koponen 1924-35 16 39
= Gunnar Åström 1923-37 16 44
9 William Kanerva 1922-38 13 51
= Jorma Vaihela 1947-54 13 33
Coach
Nat
Tenure
Matches
Wins
Draws
Losses
Win %
None
1911–1921
17
6
2
9
35.3
1922
4
1
0
3
25.0
None
1923–1935
77
22
12
43
28.6
1936–1937
8
1
1
6
12.5
None
1937–1938
9
3
0
6
33.3
1939
6
1
0
5
16.7
None
1939–1943
7
0
1
6
0.0
1945
2
0
0
2
0.0
1946
3
0
0
3
0.0
1947–1955
51
7
9
35
13.7
1955–1958
23
3
1
19
13.0
1959–1961
19
3
0
16
15.8
1962–1974
91
16
21
54
17.6
1975
2
0
1
1
0.0
1975–1978
30
8
4
18
26.7
1979–1981
27
4
6
17
14.8
1982–1987
53
9
11
33
17.0
1988–1992
48
7
21
20
14.6
1993–1994
25
5
7
13
20.0
1994–1996
21
7
4
10
33.3
1996–1999
34
9
12
13
26.5
2000–2005
72
34
12
26
47.2
2005
6
2
2
2
33.3
2006–2007
22
6
11
5
27.3
2008–
7
2
2
3
28.57

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