New deal will boost City hero Pukki’s confidence even further ahead of Premier League challenge
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After star striker Teemu Pukki became the latest Norwich City player to sign a new deal, David Freezer assesses the Finn’s fairytale story in Norfolk so far and looks ahead to what the next chapter could include.
It was probably the least surprising news of the off-season when Teemu Pukki's new contract was announced, after a quite brilliant season that will be talked about by Norwich City fans for many years to come.
For a player who is not only a superstar in Norfolk, but in Finland as well, the recognition of his 30-goal debut campaign in England can only be welcomed by Canaries fans.
Already this summer we've had everyone from City legend Grant Holt, through to no less than Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, queuing up to back Pukki as a Premier League force.
If the lethal finisher was not already in his 30th year, there would probably have been much more than just the reported interest from Portuguese side Benfica to get City supporters worried this summer.
Instead, it's quite clear that Pukki has found something of a spiritual home at Carrow Road, as he hits the peak of a career which had already allowed him to enjoy some fine achievements along the way, suggesting the forward would have little interest in leaving.
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From playing in the Champions League with Schalke, to winning the Scottish title with Celtic and the Danish Cup with Brondby, it may not have all gone quite as well as he had hoped but he is still closing on 150 career goals.
Thankfully for City and Daniel Farke, 30 of those goals all came in a campaign which ended in an unexpected Championship title triumph which defied the odds. Pukki is an example of why.
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Signed on a free transfer last summer, sporting director Stuart Webber and his recruitment team were working with head coach Farke to try and put together a squad which could bring the Canaries a bit of upward momentum, on a budget.
The cost cutting and vast reduction in turnover from two seasons away from the riches of the Premier League meant that recruitment had to be creative, risks had to be taken.
When Pukki arrived he was a player that most City fans will honestly admit they'd never heard of, despite a career at a very decent level on the whole. Now that name will never be forgotten.
Plundering a remarkable 29 league goals can essentially go down as one of the very best goal-scoring campaigns in the 117-year history of Norwich City.
Just one player has scored more league goals in a single season before, Ralph Hunt with 31 in 1955-56, although that was in Division Three South.
Percy Varco also managed 29 but that was back in 1927-28 and also in the third tier, with both Terry Allcock and Ron Davies managing 26-goal hauls during Division Two seasons in the 1960s.
The Finn was the first to score 25 league goals in a campaign since Chris Sutton's remarkable top-flight haul in 1993-94 - which arguably still just has the edge on Pukki - and the first since Grant Holt in 2009-10 to score 30 in all competitions.
The 29-year-old joined Holt, Varco, Davies, Allock and Hunt in a select group of just six players to have ever managed 30 goals in a campaign, in the club's entire history.
To manage to launch his name among such esteemed Canaries company during his first season in England, after arriving on a free transfer, to finish the season with the Championship trophy in his hands, after being named Player of the Season for the division, his club and his country is nothing short of a fairytale season.
To put that into further context, Pukki only needs four goals next season to enter City's all-time top 50 goal-scorers list, with Chris Martin and Craig Bellamy currently sat in joint 50th on 34 goals.
Ten would take him up to joint 34th in that list, where Justin Fashanu, Phil Boyer and Paul McVeigh sit. Continue to show the ruthlessly clinical form of 2018-19 and that should be more than achievable, with the sky-high confidence and momentum of promotion coursing through his veins.
With his Finland success added to the mix, a total of 36 goals in 56 matches saw Pukki elevated to hero status, lifting the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy at Carrow Road and being named men's Player of the Year at his country's annual football awards ceremony.
That glut of goals has changed the course of Farke's reign at City and opened up the chance of a career defining season for those involved with this energised and determined Canaries squad.
So ensuring your star striker feels happy and hungry for more success seems a rather good idea, not only rewarding him for a phenomenal season which will never be forgotten, but ensuring he's fully focused on trying to reproduce the magic once kick-off arrives at Anfield on August 9.
- Pukki spoke to the media after City's promotion was sealed in May, you can watch his interview above, as well as his interview with City's YouTube channel about his new contract