We are the Champions: Finland – 2013 Veikkausliiga – HJK
Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi (Helsingin=of Helsinki, Jalka=foot, pallo=ball, jalkapallo=football klubi=club), or HJK, is the most famous, the oldest and the most successful football club in Helsinki and in Finland.
HJK has won so far 26 Veikkausliigas, the Finnish Championship, 11 Suomen Cups, and 4 League Cups.
It was established in 1907 by Fredrik Wathén and wears a blue-and-white striped kit.
From 1939 to 1963 (included) HJK hadn’t won any Finnish Championship, anyway the Championship hadn’t been played for few years because of the war.
HJK female team won 22 Finnish Championships.
It’s situated in “Töölö, a district of Helsinki, very close to the bigger Olympic Stadium, where Finnish National Team usually plays, and it has a capacity of 10,770, all seated and covered, while the playground is an artificial turf.
HJK qualifies almost every years for UEFA competitons, so that they have played several European matches so far, and have faced teams such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Wisla Krakow, Hertha Berlin, Ajax, Spartak Mosco, FC Porto, AC Milan. Dynamo Kiev, RSC Anderlecht, Besiktas JK, Girondins de Bordeaux,Red Star Belgrade, PSV, Benfica, Olympique Lyonnais, Celtic FC, Parma, FK Partizan, Dinamo Zagreb, Schalke 04 and Athletic Bilbao.
Their best European Season was in 1997/98, when they eliminated FC Metz (France), and qualified for UEFA Champions League Group Stage (fist and only Finnish team that achieved that), where they faced PSV(two losses), Benfica (one win and a draw) and 1. FC Kaiserslautern (a draw and a loss), performing more than decently.
He is a former Finnish mildfielder, who played for HJK, BK Häcken, Geylang International (Singapore), FC Kuusysi and FinnPa, and also collected 14 caps for Finland, scoring 2 goals. He has coached HJK since 2013, winning the Championship at his fist Season, but also being kicked out from Champions League by the Estonian team Nomme Kalju, at the first tie.
If he hadn’t won the title, he would probably have been sacked at the end of the Season.
Before HJK, he managed FF Jaro and Orebro (Sweden).
Ville Wallén, 37 (C)
Saku-Pekka Sahlgren, 21
Mathias Lindström, 32
Tapio Heikkilä, 23
Timi Lahti, 23
Sebastian Sorsa, 29
Tuomas Kansikas, 32
Mikko Sumusalo, 23
Valtteri Moren, 22
Rasmus Schüller, 22
Sebastian Mannström, 25
Robin Lod, 21
Mika Väyrynen, 32
Joel Perovuo, 28
Sakari Mattila, 24
Erfan Zeneli, 27
Teemu Tainio, 34
Demba Savage, 25 (GAM)
Fredrik Lassas, 17
Mikael Forssell, 32
Eero Markkanen, 22
Nikolai Alho, 20
The most famous footballers playing for HJK are three: Mikael Forssell (32, former striker of Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Borussia Monchengladbach, Birmingham City, Hannover 96 and Leeds United, 26 goals in 81 app. for Finland), Teemu Tainio (former midfielder of Auxerre, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, Birmingham City, Ajax and New York Red Bulls) and Mika Väyrynen (former midfielder of Heerenveen, PSV and Leeds United, but he made just 3 appearances this season because of serious injuries).
There are several current Finnish Internationals playing for HJK: defenders Tapio Heikkila, Sebastian Sorsa, Mikko Sumusalo and midfielders Sebastian Mannstrom, Rasmus Schuller, Erfan Zeneli and Sakari Mattila, while midfielders Robin Lod, 20, and Nikolaj Alho are key elements of Finnish Under 21 NT, with whom sometimes the second GK Saku-Pekka Sahlgren plays too. Demba Savage (winger) is instead a Gambian International.
The captain is the GK, the very experienced Wille Wallen, 37, who has played for HJK since 2005, while during the Summer transfer market, Joel Pohjanpalo, 19, one of the brightest prospects of Finnish Football, has been sold by HJK to Bayer Leverkusen, that later loaned him to 2.Bundesliga.
The top scorers of this Season have been Mikael Forssell (14 goals in 22 app.), Demba Savage (11 goals in 22 app.) and Erfan Zeneli (11 goals in 22 app.), while the irreplaceable players have been GK Ville Wallen, defenders Sebastian Sorsa, Tapio Heikkila, Valtteri Moren, Mikko Sumusalo and wingers Demba Savage and Erfan Zeneli.
The squad is changing a bit for the upcoming Season, especially in the back and in the mildfield, because 8 players have been sold, and 4 of them were more or less regulars: defenders Mikko Sumusalo, 28, (RB Leipzig, third tier of German football), Mathias Lindström, 32, (FC Inter Turku) and midfielders Sakari Mattila, 23, (Aalesund FK, Norway) and Joel Perovuo, 27, (FC Honka), while currently just 2 players have been signed: the right back Veli Lampi, 28, (from Arsenal Kiev, Finnish International, former defender of FC Zurigo, FC Aarau and Willem II) and the very experienced midfielder Markus Heikkinen, 35, (from’IK Start, Norway, more than 60 caps for Finnish NT, and former defender of FC Portsmouth, Aberdeen FC, Luton Town, and, most of all, Rapid Wien, where he spent 6 seasons).
2013 TIPICAL LINEUP
Moren – Sorsa, Moren, Heikkila, Sumusalo – Mattila, Tainio (Schuller) – Savage, Lod, Zeneli – Forssell
Average attendance during ordinary home matches is around 4.000, and 6/7.000 during the most interesting matches, while during decisive and/or Champions League games the stadium can be sold out. The hottest supporters are about 200, divided between two groups: Forza HJK, the biggest one, that has an italian style, quite choreographic, and Sakilaiset, more ”casual”, that separated from the previous one. The strongest rivalries are with HIFK (the football section of a popular ice-hockey club, but they usually play in second or third tier of Finnish football, currently in Ykkonen, 2nd), FC Lahti, FC Honka and FC Haka (currently in Ykkonen, second tier). The rivalry with HIFK, FC Lahti and FC Honka is mainly geographic, because all of these clubs are based in Helsinki or in the nearby (Lahti, the farthest one, is just one our far from Helsinki by train), while the rivalry with FC Haka was born on the field, because the team from Valkeakoski is the second most titled team in the Country.