First-team

Teemu Pukki: "It was a big moment. I am really proud of it."

Teemu Pukki said it was a proud moment for him to break Finland’s all time goalscoring record as he boosted the countries’ chances of World Cup qualification with a double against Kazakhstan.

The 31-year-old striker scored two goals in Tuesday's World Cup qualifying match to take his international tally to 33 goals, one ahead of his former teammate Jari Litmanen (32).

“It was a big moment,” said Teemu. “I am obviously really, really proud of it. Jari Litmanen is the biggest football hero in Finland, so it was a very big, big moment for me to go past him.

“It was also quite important to get a victory, after we lost to Ukraine. It is still all open in the World Cup qualification, so I am happy with those goals.”

Teemu played with Jari Litmanen when he was at HJK Helsinki in 2011, as well at international level, and says it was great to get a congratulatory message from him as well as plenty of Norwich City and Finland fans.

“I got a message through our media guy at our national team, where he (Jari) congratulated me.

“The fans are a huge part of football as well, so I am happy to get their messages from all around. They are one of the biggest parts of why we do this sport, so I am happy to get recognised by them.”

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The goals that Teemu scored helped put Finland in a strong position to secure a play-off place in Group D. They are now a point behind second placed Ukraine, but have a game in hand over Oleksandr Petrakov’s side.

With two qualification matches left for Finland, it is in their hands. Teemu, with 10 goals in qualification matches for Euro 2020, helped his country get to their first major international tournament and there were big celebrations when that happened.

So, how does Teemu view his country’s chances of qualifying for their World Cup and what will the celebrations be like if they do?

“It is not going to be easy,” he said. “We go Bosnia away, which is a tough place to go, and we need to get three points out of that and after that we play France at home, where we need points as well.

“So, it is going to be a big, big task for us but I believe we have what it takes to do it. Now it is time to focus on our games here (at Norwich), or wherever the other players are, then in four weeks we have to be at 100 per cent and play the best football that we can to achieve the second place.

“We still, even if we finish second, need to play the play-offs in March, but if we go to a World Cup I think it would be a similar party in Finland, but there are loads of games to go before that.”

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