Pukki star rising as he gets Finland call-up and chases further records for club and country
Teemu Pukki has been named in Finland's squad for their Euro 2020 qualfiers against Greece and Italy 
(Getty Images/TF-Images)

Pukki star rising as he gets Finland call-up and chases further records for club and country

The Norwich City striker has been in prolific scoring form for his club and will hope to make an impact against Italy and Greece.

danny-matcham
Danny Matcham

Norwich City's in-form striker Teemu Pukki has received another boost to his impressive start to this season after he was included in Finland's squad for their upcoming European Championship qualifiers.

The 29-year old will hope for a place in Finland head coach Markku Kanerva's starting line-up for the competitive home fixtures against Greece and Italy in early September.

He played for Finland in their last two internationals in June, netting in both fixtures, and his goalscoring form for his club has caused everyone to sit up and take notice.

Pukki is no stranger to the national team set-up, having made 74 previous appearances for Finland and scored 18 goals, but his star has arguably never been higher at the time of his latest call-up.

Man on fire

The tenacious and talented Pukki has scored five goals in Norwich's three league matches, the latest an equalising effort against Chelsea in a match they competed valiantly but ultimately lost 3-2 at Carrow Road.

With this strike, Pukki joined former Fulham and Reading front-man Pavel Pogrebnyak as the only other player to hit five goals in his first three Premier League appearances.

The Canaries' Championship-winning hero added to his terrific scoring record from last season, when he hit 30 goals in 46 matches in all competitions in Norwich's successful promotion bid, by writing his name into top-flight history.

He opened his season's account with a second-half consolation effort against Liverpool in a 4-1 loss at Anfield and was then responsible for all three goals as Norwich kicked their season into gear as they beat Newcastle United 3-1 on home territory.

Pogrebnyak's run of success came in a three-game spell after joining Fulham, beginning with his debut against Stoke City in February 2012, a second goal the next game facing Queens Park Rangers and a perfect hat-trick to down Wolverhampton Wanderers the following month.

International pedigree

Pukki has appeared in 74 matches for Finland and joined the list of great strikers for his country with the 18 goals to date putting him into the record books.

Up until joining Norwich in the summer of 2018, Pukki had enjoyed something of a journeyman career with fans of HJK Helsinki in his home country, German Bundesliga side Schalke 04, Celtic in the Scottish Premier League and Danish outfit Brandy IF all learning his name.

He made his debut for Finland in 2009 and got his first goal under then-manager Mixu Paatelainen in a 3-2 friendly win against Turkey in May 2012.

Records in sight

Coincidentally, Pukki currently shares fifth place on the all-time Finland goalscorer's list with Paatelainen, who played for his country between 1989 and 2000.

The former Bolton Wanderers and Wolves player scored the last of his eighteen goals against Turkey in 1999.

Pukki will also fancy his chances of catching Jari Litmanen at the top of his country's scoring charts.

Litmanen's 32 goals is ahead of other national superstar strikers Mikael Forssell (29), Jonatan Johansson (22) and Ari Hjelm (20).

He is also only two appearances from drawing level with Hannu Tihinen and Petri Pasanen, who both played 76 matches for Huuhkajat (The Eagle-owls), although he has a way go to reach Litmanen's record-breaking 137 caps.

Pukki is the only active player on either list, however, and, at 29 years old, has time on his side.

Recent form

The Norwich forward's last outing for his country was against Liechtenstein on 11th June where he delivered the opening goal in a 2-0 away victory in their second fixture on the road to Euro 2020 qualification.

Three days earlier he had contributed both goals in their opening fixture of the campaign, a 2-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Tampere Stadium.

This will be the scene of his next chances to impress for his country starting on 5th September, with Italy and Greece both sure to provide a stern test for Pukki and his team-mates.

Before then he will be in action for his club when they face West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

On current form, he will be confident of finding the net once again and closing in on more records.

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