Chris Goreham: City’s ultimate crowd pleaser with a hairstyle to match
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Does anyone know how to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t be with you tonight, I’ve got a big game on Saturday so I need to stay fresh for that, but I’m thrilled to receive this award and I hope you’re all having a great evening’ in Finnish?
There's no point pretending I'm asking for a friend because it's obvious that I want to ask on behalf of Teemu Pukki. Except there's no point because if Norwich City fans can be certain of anything about their star striker it is that he is the ultimate crowd pleaser.
It was no surprise when, less than 48 hours before the Canaries' biggest game of the season, Pukki flew home to stand on a stage while the sort of glittery confetti that falls on the winners of Strictly Come Dancing rained on him to mark his coronation as Finland's Athlete of the Year.
How many other clubs would have allowed their main man so far off the leash that close to such a crucial game?
Thankfully he didn't drop his latest shiny trophy on his already injured toe and returned to Norfolk in fine enough condition to fire home the decisive penalty to beat Bournemouth at Carrow Road and reignite hopes that the greatest of escapes might just about still be possible.
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There was no way that Pukki wasn't going to be allowed to collect his gong in person. Daniel Farke's has been consistent in his mantra of allowing players to make the most of the good times.
What's the point in working so hard if you can't thoroughly enjoy the spoils when they come along?
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Thanks to Pukki's progress Norwich City Football Club has thousands of new Finnish followers and, with football being such a commercially savvy business these days, it's a market the Canaries are fully prepared to tap into. Indeed tickets to their first Football Camp in the country have gone on sale this week with Adam Drury and Grant Holt due to fly to Finland to spread the yellow and green gospel in the summer with the hope of even finding one or two tiny Teemus or potential Pukkis.
With some footballers there might be a concern that going out on a school night might enhance the risk of a move them from the back pages of the newspapers to the front of the tabloids. There is no such concern with Pukki. His goal scoring exploits over the past 18 months have given him the right to walk around Norfolk with his chest puffed out as if he owns the place but his modesty has been almost as impressive as his finishing since he arrived at Carrow Road.
His down to earth nature was summed up by the revelation that he didn't spend a fortune on a fancy new haircut ahead of that big night back in Finland.
Pukki's humble hair do was administered in the room at City's Colney training ground where they wash the kit. It was none other than club captain Grant Hanley who wielded the clippers.
Hair By Hanley would be an interesting business proposition for the Norwich City centre back when he retires. It could be the first barbers in the world where customers are told what sort of haircut they are going to be given whether they like it or not. Few would argue.
By inspiring Norwich City's promotion push, becoming a regular Premier League goal scorer and scoring the goals that sealed Finland's place at Euro 2020, a first major tournament, Pukki has become a national hero. Only two other footballers, Sami Hyypia and Jari Litmanen, have ever been named the country's Athlete of the Year. There have been several skiers, racing drivers and in 2010 the award was won by Minna Kauppi for her impressive feats in the sport of orienteering.
Pukki's probably good at that as well although he'd be too modest to say so. He certainly knows how to find the back of the net.