Showing posts with label West Ham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Ham. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2012

Far-flung Finns - Jussi Jääskeläinen

The second part of our series on Finns plying their trade abroad focuses on Jussi Jääskeläinen of West Ham United, the longest-serving foreign player currently in the Premier League.

That Bolton survived in English football's top division for so long was quite a surprise, they were a true definition of a yo-yo club in the late 1990s. But after returning in 2001 under Sam Allardyce, they became long-serving members and even qualified for Europe in 2005. The one constant in their stay in the top flight was Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jääskeläinen, signed in 1997 for just £100,000 (approx €125000) from VPS.

Jussi Jääskeläinen in his VPS days

Jääskeläinen made over 500 appearances for Bolton, once one of England's great clubs (they won the first FA Cup final to be held at Wembley). They were finally relegated in 2012, but the Finn didn't feature as much in the second half of the season due to the emergence of Hungarian keeper Ádám Bogdán. His contract expired, and opted to re-join Allardyce at newly-promoted West Ham, back in the Premier League. Early signs are that he's made the right move.

Jääskeläinen vs Manchester United, voted third best Premier League save (third clip on video)

West Ham were relegated from the Premier League in 2011 with a whimper, but came back up at the first attempt, and after eleven matches are sitting a surprising sixth place, above Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle. They've conceded eleven goals, fewer than Manchester United. It is perhaps indicative of how important their new keeper is that he is currently the top-scoring goalkeeper in the official Fantasy League.

Denying Papiss Demba Cisse in Sunday's 1-0 win at Newcastle

Winner of 56 international caps for Finland, he's showing at 37 that he can still perform at the top level. While several rumoured moves to Arsenal never happened, he's showing perhaps why they have missed out.

He was typically blunt when giving an interview to the official West Ham website after their opening day win against Aston Villa, but even a top-half finish would be a fantastic achievement. While he stated he won't consider a return to international football, coach Mixu Paatelainen must wish he had such options to choose from.

On international duty