A historic debut for Finland and Lappalainen

Montreal’s Finn ready to play on the biggest stage

It was on a cold night in Helsinki, in November of 2019, before the world was shut down due to the ongoing pandemic, that history was made in the Finnish capital. The Finland national team was getting set to take on Liechtenstein in Helsinki in what was to be the most important game in their history up to that point.

Win, and the Finns would book their ticket to their first ever major tournament, the prestigious Euros.

The air that night was thick with anticipation. Fans lined the streets in front of the stadium hours before the game, taking in the festivities and talking about the historic moment they were about to witness. Liechtenstein was last in the group, and should make for easy work for Finland, who was cruising in first. In a predominantly hockey-oriented town, soccer ruled that night.

Unfortunately, Lappalainen watched from the sidelines, out with an injury, as Finland made do on their promise, defeating Liechtenstein comfortably 3-0 in what was a very memorable night in Helsinki.

The Finnish people had to wait an extra year to see their team’s debut on one of the world’s biggest stages after the pandemic struck just months before the start of the tournament, putting all major events on hold for the foreseeable future. For Lassi, that at least meant he would have the time to return from injury and get into the best shape possible.

Now, over a year later, he’s ready to help his team in a major international competition.

“Every day as we get closer, it gets more exciting and unbelievable that we are here,” said CF Montréal forward Lassi Lappalainen. “It is the greatest football achievement of my career.”

Finland finds itself in a group with Denmark, Russia, and tournament favourites Belgium. It will by no means be an easy road past the group stage for Lappalainen and his compatriots, but they’ll be hungry to prove that their first-ever berth to the Euros was anything but a fluke. They kick off proceedings in Group B against Denmark on Saturday.

“Our team energy has always been great and now it’s even more boosted,” added Lappalainen. “We play well together, and we know exactly what to do on the field. We expect to give everything we have and go through to the knockout stage.”