The Return of the King

FC Lahti have announced that the legendary #10, Jari Litmanen, is a new addition to their squad. He has been training with the team for a few weeks now and it was quite natural that he decided to bring this season to its conclusion playing for Lahti.

“He has been training very well with us, and I have no doubt that he is ready for Veikkausliiga,” said Mäkelä in response to my query as to whether he was really better than Berat Sadik. “He is fit, and mentally focused, which hasn’t been the case too often with Jari Litmanen in recent years.”

“Once he has played 2-3 games for us, he should be available to the national team for the Israel game. He’s a great example to the younger players, his dedication to training is quite something. He will provide a focus for our attack that we’ve been missing since Berat Sadik left to play in the Bundesliga.”

Somewhat surprisingly, FC Lahti are involved in this season’s title race, and Litmanen – despite his age – can do wonders for his side. Maybe Rafael will now find his flair again? This could be great for Veikkausliiga, too.

Mäkelä made the point that “now we’ll see just how much people in Finland really care about football”, a reference to the hype and media coverage that will surely follow Litmanen’s Lahti around.

Litmanen last played with Lahti in 2004, and his joining the club meant great attendances wherever he played. The Finns were so eager to see the King play that FC Lahti had to put out an infamous press release ending with the words “FC Lahti reserve the right to pick out their squad themselves”. That was after he had missed a couple of games due to injury and big crowds left the stadia dissatisfied.

This time Mäkelä is hoping for 5,000-6,000 for the game against KuPS on Monday, many of them presumably going to see KuPS’s new signing from Tampere United Antti Hynynen. The game is on TV, 7pm on Urheilukanava, and there will surely be a stream available for those outside Finland.

In other news, Iiro Aalto “returns” to TPS. He signed a contract early in the year, but left to play for Olympiakos Nicosia of Cyprus before ever playing a game for TPS. Olympiakos Nicosia were relegated, enabling Aalto’s return to Finland, where he joined Tampere United.

I wonder what TPS will get out of this. They have a decent left defender in Urmas Rooba and some backup to see off the Estonian’s injury. What TPS would need is either a striker or a centre-back or both, but instead they signed a left defender.


3 Responses

  1. Jari is back and it’s a excellent thing for the FC Lahti and the Veikkausliiga. I hope I’ll illuminate finnish stadiums !

  2. What a return!! Two goals and two assists. His vision and passing will hopefully help Lahti kick on from here. Exciting times for FC Lahti. Great that Litti’s homecoming was on TV, too.

  3. UNBELIEVABLE!!! The King is Back… again

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