‘I scouted him when he first broke through’ - Palace boss a fan of City striker
PUBLISHED: 15:17 27 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 27 September 2019
Teemu Pukki’s exploits at Norwich City will have come as a surprise for many in English football but Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has spoken of how he scouted the striker during his stint as manager of Finland in 2006.
Hodgson has spoken ahead of City facing his Palace side tomorrow, and there will be a familiar name in the Canaries ranks for the veteran Eagles boss.
From taking Fulham to a European final to a four-year stint as England manager, there isn't a lot that has passed Hodgson by in his 42-year managerial career - and he revealed Pukki had impressed him during his spell as Finnish national team manager.
"I remember he had broken through and I used to scout him, of course, for the team. Then I lost track to be fair," the 72-year-old explained.
"He was only about 16 or 17 [years-old]. He'd already broken through. I knew he was a major Finnish talent and one they believed in but then I lost track a little bit of his career."
Pukki's emergence in Finland arrived when playing for KTP in the top flight in his home country and although Hodgson decided against calling him up in 2007, the striker has subsequently made 76 appearances for Finland, scoring 20 times.
His influence at Norwich years later didn't shock the Palace coach, who was full of praise for the Canaries talisman prior to Saturday's visit to Selhurst Park.
Speaking to his club's official website, Hodgson continued: "I remembered his name when he turned up a couple of years ago but I must say he has worked very hard at his game to become the player he is today, especially after one or two setbacks.
"But the Finnish people are good characters. I've got to say I don't have a bad word to say about anything regarding Finland vis a vis the nature and the geography of the country and the people who live there."
Hodgson also spoke of the importance of restricting the chances available to the Canaries' top scorer, knowing that preventing Pukki finding his rhythm will be a massive bonus for his side's prospects.
"It's a team game," he added. "You don't nullify him by hoping that one individual in our team will nullify him as an individual on the other team.
"You make certain that you deny the passes that he'll need to score the goals and our players who will be in the area around which he plays are very much aware of how he plays, what type of runs he makes and what he's looking to do so that they're not going to be caught on the hop as it were by not realising what he's capable of."
Palace have made a reasonably positive start to the Premier League season as they sit on eight points after six games.