See what's happening on Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr

FIFPro-Worlds-players-union-mobile-logo

One year ago Roope Riski was among the 70 players trying to impress scouts and coaches during the fourth edition of the FIFPro Winter Tournament in Oslo.

On Monday, Roope Riski was a celebrated man, as the formerly unemployed striker scored the only goal in Finland's 1-0 win over archrivals Sweden.

Riski made his first appearance for the national team during the friendly encounter that took place in Abu Dhabi and what a debut it was.

Only three minutes after national team manager Mixu Paatelainen put the 23-year old forward on the field as a second half substitute, Riski escaped from his Swedish opponents and coolly slotted the ball in the far corner: 1-0.

 

Roope Riski's goal from 1.20 minutes

"I cannot find the words to describe how I am feeling at this moment", Riski said after the match, which was the first Finnish victory against their neighbor Sweden in thirteen years.

Riski's performance made a proud man of Markus Juhola, the General Secretary of the Finnish professional footballers association (JPY-FPA). Juhola remembers Riski being a member of his union's team, that won the fourth edition of the FIFPro Winter Tournament in January 2014. The strikerhad a very good tournament and earned a two-year contract with Norwegian second league side Hønefoss. In Norway Riski impressed by scoring 12 goals in 23 matches, which resulted in his first call up for Finland.

"I am very happy for Roope", Juhola continued. "We -the players union - gave him an opportunity to participate in the FIFPro Winter Tournament, and he made the best of it. His story, his performance for the national team, shows what kind of success players can have when participating in the FIFPro Tournament. In our country, lots of players are interested in the possibility to play at this event, because it can help their careers as professional footballers."

In recent years, the Finnish players union was able to field a strong side consisting of many players with experience in the Finnish premier league (Veikkausliga) or even the national team. "We have had some players who had already played for the Finnish national team before joining our union's team, but we never had a player who appeared in the national team after playing for us. That make's Riski's achievement all the greater."

Juhola's colleague in Sweden, Magnus Erlingmark, will also have smiled after Riski's goal. Of course, the former 1994 World Cup veteran would have loved to see a different result, but Riski's performance might help Erlingmark convince Swedish players to join the team of the Swedish player union (Spelarföreningen SFS). Much to his chagrin, Erlingmark had a hard time finding first and second league players in his country for the recent edition of the FIFPro Winter Tournament, as these players thought they were too good for the competition.

In the meantime, Finland's national team manager Paatelainen has decided to put Riski in the starting eleven for the match against Yemen, this Thursday January 22nd in Dubai.

 

Roope Riski's statement for this year's FIFPro Winter Tournament