Player: Teemu Pukki
Teemu Pukki is one of the most recognizable names in Finnish football, mostly because of his knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Norwich City & Finland
TEEMU PUKKI is one of the most recognizable names in Finnish football, mostly because of his knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Pukki infamously singlehandedly sunk Schalke in a Champions League qualifier while playing for HJK and was responsible for the equalising goal when the Finnish national team earned an away point against Spain, in a match dubbed the miracle of Gijon.
But Pukki’s path to the stars hasn’t been without problems. In 2014, after a disappointing first season at Celtic, Teemu was wondering where his career was going. After a promising start, with early moves to Sevilla and Schalke he was experiencing something of a plateau, and since Celtic were willing to cut him loose he needed to make sure that his next move would be one where he could re-establish himself as the special talent he is.
When we came into the fray, the first thing we wanted to make sure was that Teemu would find himself in a positive environment. We wanted to find him a club that would allow him to flourish, where he could feel empowered by the pressure put on him, rather than held down.
We had several options on the table, but the one that stood out was Bröndby.
Although the move from Scotland to Denmark was lateral, we felt that it was simply a move from one big club to another. In Denmark the overall level of football would be roughly the same, if not slightly higher, while Bröndby as a club did everything to make us know that they really wanted Teemu to be their star.
When Teemu first arrived at Bröndby, he took some time to shake of the rust after not having played regularly for a while, but once he got himself up to speed, he never looked back. After four seasons in Copenhagen, he is now the player with the second most goals for the club ever, a remarkable feat in such a brief period of time. Pukki, traditionally a goal poacher renowned for his speed, has developed his game to become a more rounded player, a more physical presence and a leader on the pitch as well as off it. Sometimes, the key to player development is just finding the right move in the right time.
Managing your career is largely mostly about identifying talent – how good is the player, what is his floor, what is his ceiling – and making sure that he can keep progressing from year to year. Pukki took some time to find his feet, but now that he has, he is on the rise again. Expect to find him in the right place again sometime in the future.