Best Finnish Soccer Players of All Time

Vince Massara

Finland may not be known for its soccer prowess, but the country has produced some exceptional players who have made their mark on the sport. Teemu Pukki and Jari Litmanen are two notable Finnish players who have not only achieved success in Finland but also on the international stage.

However, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Finland has seen several other players who have had remarkable careers and left a lasting impact. Let's explore their stories and the success they have achieved in the world of soccer.

Jari Litmanen

Jari Litmanen, also known as 'The King', was the captain of the Finnish national team from 1996 to 2008 and had an outstanding career playing for top clubs like Ajax, Barcelona, and Liverpool. He's widely regarded as the greatest Finnish football player of all time.

Litmanen began his international career in the early 1990s, representing the Finnish national team. His talent and skills quickly caught the attention of top clubs, leading him to join Ajax in 1992. At Ajax, Litmanen played a pivotal role in the team's success, winning the Eredivisie league five times and scoring 23 goals in the UEFA Champions League. This achievement firmly established him as a legendary figure in Finnish football.

In 1999, Litmanen made a move to Liverpool, becoming the first Finnish player to play in the English Premier League. Despite facing injuries, Litmanen showcased his exceptional abilities on the field and made significant contributions to Liverpool's success. Throughout his career, Litmanen's technical skills, intelligence, and leadership qualities made him a valuable asset to both his club and country.

His accomplishments and impact on Finnish football continue to inspire future generations of players.

Sami Hyypiä

Sami Hyypiä, a former Finnish football player, gained recognition for his exceptional defensive skills during his time at Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen. Hyypiä started his career in Finland, playing for Kumu and MyPa, before moving to Willem II in the Netherlands. It was at Willem II where he caught the attention of Liverpool, who signed him in 1999.

During his time at Liverpool, Hyypiä became a key figure in the team's defense. He formed a strong partnership with Stephane Henchoz, helping the club win several trophies, including the UEFA Champions League in 2005. Hyypiä's performances earned him multiple Finnish Player of the Year awards, and he became the second-most capped Finnish player after Jari Litmanen.

After leaving Liverpool, Hyypiä joined Bayer Leverkusen, where he continued to excel as a defender. He made his international debut for Finland in 1992 and represented his country in numerous matches. Hyypiä retired from professional football in 2011 and later pursued coaching and management roles.

Teemu Pukki

Teemu Pukki is a talented Finnish footballer known for his attacking abilities. He currently plays as a striker for Norwich City in the Premier League and represents the Finland national team. Despite being born in March 1990, Pukki has already made a significant impact on Finnish football. He's played for clubs like Sevilla, Schalke 04, and Celtic before joining Norwich City in 2018, which marked his return to English football. Pukki quickly became a key player for the team, scoring an impressive 29 goals in the 2018/2019 season and winning the player of the season award in the EFL Championship.

Pukki's success extends beyond his club career. He's also played a crucial role in Finland's footballing achievements, helping the national team qualify for their first major international tournament, UEFA Euro 2020. This accomplishment has brought immense pride and joy to the Finnish footballing community.

When watching Pukki on the pitch, his skill, agility, and goal-scoring ability immediately catch your attention. His precision and consistency in finding the back of the net are truly remarkable. Pukki's contributions have solidified his status as one of the greatest Finnish soccer players of all time, following in the footsteps of legendary players like Jari Litmanen. Whether he's playing for Norwich City or representing Finland, Pukki's impact on the game is undeniable, making him a true icon in Finnish football.

Mikael Forssell

Mikael Forssell, a former professional soccer player from Finland, was widely recognized for his exceptional goal-scoring ability and his contributions to both the English Premier League and the Finnish national team.

Born on March 15, 1981, Forssell enjoyed a successful career in England, representing renowned clubs such as Chelsea, Birmingham City, and Leeds United.

Forssell's journey to the Premier League began in 1998 when he joined the German club Bayer Leverkusen. However, it was during his loan spells with English clubs that he truly left a lasting impact. From 2003 to 2008, Forssell played for Birmingham City, where he quickly became a fan favorite with his clinical finishing and unwavering determination on the field.

On the international stage, Forssell made his debut for the Finnish national team in 1999. He went on to earn 88 caps and became Finland's second-highest goal scorer, surpassed only by Jari Litmanen. Forssell's contributions played an instrumental role in Finland's achievements, including their qualification for the UEFA European Championship in 2021.

Despite facing numerous injuries throughout his career, Forssell's determination and resilience always shone through. He also had stints with clubs like Willem II in the Netherlands before retiring as a professional footballer from Finland.

Mikael Forssell's legacy as one of the greatest Finnish soccer players is firmly established by his accomplishments both domestically and internationally, and he remains highly regarded in Finnish football circles.


Now let's turn our attention to another Finnish football legend, Jari Litmanen, who's often referred to as 'The King' and is widely recognized as one of the greatest Finnish players of all time.

Here are some key highlights from Litmanen's impressive career:

  • Litmanen had a remarkable international career, serving as the captain of the Finnish national team for an impressive 12-year period from 1996 to 2008.
  • He achieved great success at the club level, winning the Eredivisie league five times with Ajax, showcasing his exceptional talent both domestically and internationally.
  • Litmanen's performances in the UEFA Champions League were exceptional, with him scoring 23 goals, further solidifying his reputation as a top-class player.
  • His impact on Finnish football can't be overstated, as he's the only Finnish player to have a statue erected in his honor, symbolizing his iconic status in the sport.
  • Litmanen's professional career included playing for prestigious clubs such as Barcelona and Liverpool, which further cemented his legacy.

From his debut on the international stage to his triumphs in league competitions and the Champions League, Jari Litmanen's career as a professional footballer is a testament to his exceptional skill and contribution to the sport.

Aki Riihilahti

Aki Riihilahti is a retired Finnish professional footballer known for his hard work and skill in midfield. He made significant contributions to both Crystal Palace and the Finnish national team. Riihilahti had a successful playing career in the English Championship, particularly with Crystal Palace, where he became a key player known for his technical ability and determination. He's considered one of the best Finnish players in the league.

On the international stage, Riihilahti represented Finland and showcased his skills against top competition. He made his international debut in 1999 and earned numerous caps for his country. Riihilahti played a vital role in the midfield and contributed to Finland's performances in various tournaments.

After retiring from professional football, Riihilahti remained involved in the sport. He ventured into football administration and punditry, further adding to his impact on the game. His career exemplifies the influence of Finnish players in international football and their ability to leave a lasting mark.

Here are some key accomplishments and milestones in Aki Riihilahti's career:

  • Playing Career: Crystal Palace
  • Finnish National Team
  • Finnish Cup: Reached the final with HJK Helsinki
  • International Debut: Made debut in 1999
  • Professional Club: Bayer Leverkusen (loan)

Aki Riihilahti's contributions to Crystal Palace and the Finnish national team, as well as his continued involvement in football, solidify his status as one of the best Finnish players in history.

Mixu Paatelainen

Mixu Paatelainen, a renowned Finnish soccer player, has left a lasting impact on the sport both as a player and a coach. Born in 1967, Paatelainen is widely regarded as one of the greatest Finnish footballers in history. Throughout his successful professional career, he represented Finland in numerous matches after making his international debut in 1989. Paatelainen showcased his skills and talent as a professional footballer while playing for various clubs, including Bayer Leverkusen, Willem II, and Hibernian.

In addition to his achievements as a player, Paatelainen's coaching career has also been remarkable. After retiring from playing, he transitioned into coaching and took on the role of head coach of HIFK. Under his guidance, the team experienced significant success, highlighting Paatelainen's expertise and influence in Finnish soccer.

Here are some reasons why Mixu Paatelainen is considered one of the best Finnish footballers:

  • He had an impressive international career, representing Finland in numerous matches.
  • Paatelainen achieved success at clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen, Willem II, and Hibernian during his playing career.
  • He also had notable achievements in domestic competitions, including winning the Finnish Cup.
  • Transitioning into coaching, Paatelainen made a significant impact as the head coach of HIFK.
  • Paatelainen's influence and skill in the sport place him among the top Finnish players, following in the footsteps of legendary player Jari Litmanen.

Roman Eremenko

Roman Eremenko, a highly skilled midfielder, made significant contributions to FC Dynamo Kyiv and the Finnish national team during his career.

He began his professional football journey with Finnish club Willem II before moving to Bayer Leverkusen in 2005. However, it was with Dynamo Kyiv where Eremenko truly excelled. He played a crucial role in helping the team secure the Ukrainian Premier League title in 2009 and 2015.

Eremenko's talent wasn't limited to the club level; he also shined on the international stage. He made his debut for the Finnish national team in 2007 and went on to represent his country 73 times, becoming one of Finland's most capped players.

Eremenko's performances in the UEFA Champions League further solidified his reputation as an outstanding midfielder. Although he faced challenges due to a doping ban, there's no denying the impact Roman Eremenko had on Finnish soccer throughout his career.

Petri Pasanen

Petri Pasanen, a former professional defender, had an impressive career playing for renowned clubs like Ajax and Werder Bremen. Throughout his career, Pasanen showcased his skills and left a lasting impact in the world of football. Here are some key highlights of his career:

  • Pasanen represented Werder Bremen in the UEFA Champions League and even featured in the 2009 UEFA Cup Final, showing his ability to compete at the highest level of European club football.
  • Known for his defensive prowess, Pasanen played a crucial role in the success of the teams he represented. His contributions were significant in securing victories and maintaining a solid defense.
  • With his skill and dedication, Pasanen caught the attention of top-tier European clubs like Ajax and Werder Bremen, showcasing his talent on the international stage.
  • He also had the opportunity to represent Finland, making his international debut and playing for the Finnish national team. Pasanen's performances for his country further solidified his reputation as one of the best Finnish football players.
  • Throughout his career, Pasanen played for other notable clubs including Bayer Leverkusen and Willem II, making an impact wherever he went.

Petri Pasanen's career stands as a testament to his talent, professionalism, and impact on Finnish soccer. His achievements and contributions have rightfully earned him a place among the best Finnish soccer players of all time.

Niklas Moisander

Niklas Moisander, an impressive center-back, has made significant contributions to Finnish soccer throughout his illustrious career. He's been a key player in the defense of the Finland national team, earning over 70 caps since his international debut in 2008.

Before joining the national team, Moisander had a successful club career, starting with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. He then moved to the Dutch league, playing for AZ Alkmaar and leading them to victory in the Dutch Cup as their captain.

Moisander's exceptional skills and performances on the field have been recognized with numerous accolades. He was voted the Finnish Footballer of the Year in 2012 and 2013, showcasing his talent and impact. Additionally, he's achieved success with his current club, Malmö FF, winning the Johan Cruyff Shield and Svenska Cupen.

With his impressive defensive abilities, leadership qualities, and dedication to the sport, Moisander has solidified his place as one of the greatest Finnish soccer players of all time. He's left a lasting impact on Finnish football through his contributions to both the national team and his club.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Finland Good at Soccer?

Finland has seen a rise in soccer talent due to its effective development system. Despite the challenges faced by players, international competitions have had a positive impact on their growth. Finnish clubs and coaching have played a crucial role in nurturing these talents. The national team has shown promising performances, with players making a name for themselves abroad. The Finnish culture has also had an influence on the game, and it seems that the future of soccer in Finland is bright.

Has Finland Ever Made It to the World Cup?

Finland has never qualified for the World Cup. However, their national team has been making progress in recent years, thanks in part to standout players like Teemu Pukki who have made significant contributions. Finnish fans are eagerly waiting for their team to have a breakthrough and make it to the prestigious tournament.

Is Football Popular in Finland?

Football is gaining popularity in Finland, with a growing number of fans and increased participation. The sport has experienced significant growth, with talented players and successful clubs making notable contributions. Finnish soccer has faced both challenges and successes, which have shaped its development. The future of football in Finland looks promising, with many exciting prospects on the horizon.

Who Was the Best Portugal Soccer Player?

Cristiano Ronaldo is widely considered the greatest soccer player from Portugal. His exceptional skills, numerous records, and multiple Ballon d'Or awards have solidified his legacy in the world of football. Ronaldo's talent and achievements have made him a standout player in the sport.


The Finnish soccer players who've made a lasting impact on the sport include Teemu Pukki and Jari Litmanen. These talented individuals haven't only excelled at the club level, but have also represented Finland's national team with great skill and dedication.

Litmanen's impressive achievement of winning the UEFA Champions League with Ajax has solidified his status as a legendary figure in Finnish soccer history. Pukki and Litmanen consistently displayed their abilities on the field, earning their place among the best in the game.

Their contributions to Finnish soccer will be remembered for years to come.

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