Even at this early stage of the Premier League season, Teemu Pukki has already proven his doubters wrong. The Finnish striker has taken to the English top-flight like a duck to water, and is the focal point of Norwich City’s free-flowing, attacking style of play. With six goals to his name at the time of writing, the Finnish international bagged a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, a crucial goal in the win over Manchester City, as well as strikes against Liverpool and Chelsea. While Norwich may be relegation favourites in Premier League betting on Betfair Exchange, Pukki will have plenty to say before that happens.
The 29-year-old’s career has been a rather long and winding journey up to this point, Pukki having worn the shirt of seven different clubs in total. His youth was spent at his hometown club Kotkan Työväen Palloilijatin (KTP) in Finland, where he made his senior debut at the tender age of 16. His couple of seasons in the first team yielded just 3 goals, but Pukki’s potential was clear for all to see.
That potential earned him a move to Spanish side Sevilla, but he struggled to find his feet, making just a single first-team appearance. He was often consigned to Sevilla’s B team, Sevilla Atlético, and his spell in the south of Spain was by all accounts a miserable experience for the young forward.
Perhaps that experience played a vital role in Pukki’s development. A young player who enjoys consistent success from a young age can often find himself burned out later on in his career. Returning to Finland and signing for HJK Helsinki offered Pukki the chance to rebuild his confidence. 33 appearances and 18 goals later, the striker had developed something of a taste for goals, and those returns earned him a move to Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga.
The Finn struggled to establish himself in the starting line-up at the German club, but a transfer to Celtic in the summer of 2013 offered Pukki the chance to impress at one of Britain’s biggest clubs. Gary Hooper had just left the Glasgow club and it was hoped that Pukki would help to fill that goal-scoring void. A return of nine goals for the Hoops represented something of a disappointment to many Celtic fans, and Pukki was soon on the move once again, returning to Scandinavia to sign for Danish side Brondby.
Here he began to hit form again, and it was four goal-laden seasons at Brondby that attracted the interest of other clubs. Norwich signed Pukki on a free transfer in the summer of 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history. Perhaps even Pukki would have been surprised if you had told him in his first season he would score 29 goals and be voted the EFL Championship Player of the Season, but the Finnish forward found the golden touch for the Canaries as they stormed to the title.
The Premier League has offered Pukki his toughest test yet, a challenge that many believed he would not be equal to given his struggles in La Liga and the Bundesliga, but he is now in the prime of his career. Having experienced ups and downs, and having underwhelmed at several of his past clubs, it seems as though Pukki has pulled his socks up at Norwich and is eager to make the most of his time in English football. He has knuckled down and shown the consistent form he couldn’t quite achieve before.
His form at international level has been impressive of late as well, with Pukki now boasting 20 goals from his 76 caps. He has played a key role in Finland’s Euro 2020 qualification prospects so far, having bagged five goals in six games. Finland currently sit in second place in their group and should they qualify for a first major international tournament, they will owe a great deal to the efforts of the Norwich striker.
The Canaries are the happy beneficiaries of Pukki’s goal-scoring prowess. For a side with a leaky defence, and a penchant for favouring attacking risk over defensive rigidity, Norwich need a frontman who can be relied upon to put the ball in the net, and Pukki fits that bill. His rise to this current level of high performance is a lesson in perseverance and hard work, qualities that the highest level of football demands.