Why Liverpool clash is so special for Pukki

Teemu Pukki will lead the charge for Norwich City at Liverpool Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Teemu Pukki will lead the charge for Norwich City at Liverpool Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Teemu Pukki insists a daunting Premier League opener at Liverpool is his perfect start for Norwich City.

Pukki's prolific debut campaign fired the club to the Championship title, promotion, and a special date at Anfield this Friday for the Finnish international.

"It's the best game to start with, and the one I was looking out for," he said.

"A lot of my family follow Liverpool, including my dad Tero and my uncle. In Finland I would say Liverpool is the biggest team, it started in the 1980s with the games on the television.

"And then obviously they have had two Finland legends in Jari Litmanen and Sami Hyppia.

"I want to test myself against the best and this will be the ideal way to see what this season is going to be about. Of course I hope I can score as many again, but the Premier League is far tougher than the Championship. We think we can surprise people this year. A lot of people won't know much about us but we are confident that we are ready."

Pukki, speaking to the Telegraph, insists his fairytale rise to the top of the English game has been a tough road.

The frontman endured difficult times at Sevilla and Celtic earlier in his career but has been a revelation at Carrow Road since arriving on a free transfer 12 months ago. Pukki notched 36 goals in all competitions for club and country and lifted countless individual awards.

"I'm 29 and it's been a long journey. It's not easy to be a footballer," he said. "It's a lot of work and commitment away from football, and I've played in many different countries, but it now feels like it has all paid off.

"I've improved 100pc as a player here. I wasn't lazy before but the style of playing here has really made me work for the team more. I love being a striker in this team.

"The success here is down to the fact we're a family. There are no egos, everybody gets on and it's the best dressing room I've ever played in. We are so close and it's nice to be part of.

"When I was a little boy, my dream was to play in Spanish football, which I've done, and then it was the Premier League, so it's all worked out okay."

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