In the latest ETS interview, I spoke with Finland's Kasper Hämäläinen, who recently caused controversy in Poland by moving from Lech Poznań to their fierce rivals Legia Warsaw. Many thanks to Kappe for his replies.
Congratulations on your move to Legia – did you find it difficult to move to a rival club? Has some of the reaction been a surprise?
Thank you. I knew exactly how much rivalry they have between these two clubs and I had to give serious thought before I signed for Legia. I knew there would be some kind of reaction and I was prepared for it, so it didn't come as a surprise for me.
#LechPoznan fans said goodbye to Kasper Hämäläinen by helping him redecorate his car after signing for rivals #legia pic.twitter.com/4xqxFtaO3f— Ed (@Gibbe84) January 19, 2016
Did you have offers from clubs in any other countries?
I had few options from different countries but as a whole package, Legia's offer suited us the best...
You’ve got a league title medal with Lech, is that the best achievement of your career so far?
After winning two silver medals, to win the league title was something extraordinary. It was my first league title and the feeling was unbelieveable. I hope that wasn't my only league title! Yes, that's my best achievement of my career so far.
What was the atmosphere like at Lech? Did the fans celebrating backwards seem strange at first?
Lech Poznan is known for its good atmosphere and for the fan culture. So I got to know it really quickly and there was a lot of noise. I knew about the "Lech Poznan dance" so it didn't come as a shock for me but still to experience that with my own eyes was something special.
Now that Hans Backe has taken over the Finland job, have you spoken to him about the future?
I spoke with him after our last qualification game against Northern Ireland and we had a good chat. Quite short, but still a little chat. He wanted to know if I'm still eager to play for the national team and I said of course I am.
Do you think the side could qualify for a major tournament in the near future?
Absolutely. We just need a little bit of luck and a good start to the campaign. Just look how Iceland managed to win their group. Everything is possible. We must believe.
As yet another TPS graduate, do you think you’ll ever return to play there?
It depends a little bit where I'm going to settle down after my journey abroad... If it is Turku, then of course I would like to play there.
You played a lot of Veikkausliiga games before moving abroad, would you recommend that to youngsters who get offers at a young age?
I was actually quite old when I moved from Veikkausliiga to Sweden. But I had some serious injuries and my development halted for a moment so I was sort of a late bloomer. But my advise is to stay and play in Veikkausliiga for a few years and then move forward. Don't rush with anything but still try to keep yourself motivated for wanting to move to one of the bigger leagues.
What was the experience like of playing in the 2003 U17 World Championships? How did it prepare you for senior football?
Back then I didn't really realize how big that was. I just played for fun and didn't think about it so much. It was a really nice experience for me and I'm sure it has helped me a lot later on.
Some footballers play video games to unwind, some make music, how do you relax away from football?
Well now we have a little baby so most of the attention goes to him... So I'm quite busy at home! But if I have time, I like to go and hit some golf balls or just go for a walk with my dog.