Profile: Norwich City new boy Pukki bounced back from Celtic disappointment with Brondby
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 01 July 2018
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Finnish international Teemu Pukki is set to bolster Norwich City’s goal-scoring department but how has the 28-year-old ended up joining the Canaries on a free transfer?
The striker has signed a three-year contract with City after the expiry of his deal with Danish side Brondby.
Pukki came through the ranks at KTP in his hometown of Kotka and was a regular at youth international levels for his country, earning a move to Spanish side Sevilla at the age of 18.
The move didn’t work out though, making just one La Liga appearance and playing most his games for Sevilla’s B team, resulting in a return home to Finland in 2010 with HJK Helsinki.
Two goals in seven games helped HJK, Finland’s most successful club, to wrap up the 2010 Veikkausliiga title and he became a key player during the next campaign.
Pukki scored 11 and set up eight during 17 league games as HJK again won the title in 2011 but it was his performances in Europa League qualifying against Schalke which earned his next move, scoring all three goals as HJK won their first leg 2-0 at home, only to be thrashed 6-1 away from home.
His prowess persuaded the German side to sign him, handing him a three-year contract in August 2011.
The striker scored twice after being given his first start, during a 2-2 Bundesliga draw at Hannover, and finished the 2011/12 season with five goals in 19 games.
The following campaign brought five Champions League appearances but no goals and just three goals in 17 games in the league led to Pukki moving in August 2013, to Scottish giants Celtic, for a reported £3million fee – after the Hoops had sold striker Gary Hooper to Norwich for around £5m.
A debut goal followed in September 2013, coming off the bench to help seal a 3-1 win at Hearts in the Scottish Premiership but a total of seven goals in 33 games made for an under-whelming start to life at Celtic Park, even with Neil Lennon’s side winning a league and cup double, with Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons the chief goal-scorers.
Two goals in Champions League qualifying, against Reykjavik, at the beginning of 2014/15 were not enough to convince Lennon to persevere with Pukki and an initial loan to Danish side Brondy was agreed.
Lennon spoke about Pukki’s re-emergence as a force with Brondby two years ago as his Hibernian side prepared to face his former striker in Europa League qualifying, in which Hibs were edged out on a penalty shootout.
“Listen, he is not going to turn into Superman just because he has got a move to Brondby,” the outspoken Northern Irishman told The Scotsman at the time.
“He still has the same attributes; good feet, okay with his back to goal and he will go in behind as well. He has never been the most physical of players, he was never that type. He will be a similar sort of player as what you saw at Celtic but maybe a bit more comfortable in the Scandinavian environment.
“He’s not the first person to come to Glasgow and not hit the ground running. He is a quiet boy. He had a few injury problems as well and at a club like Celtic, when you’re brought in for money, you have to score goals. And he wasn’t really an out-and-out goalscorer. He played within himself a little bit, I thought. He didn’t really show his capabilities.
“He’s very quiet. I don’t know if it was too big for him because he had been at Sevilla and at Schalke, so he had been at big clubs. He was never prolific but we felt he had the qualities we wanted but he would maybe say he never got the chance to show that on a consistent basis.”
Pukki soon found his feet again though, with 11 goals in 30 games in all competitions, to persuade Brondby to sign him permanently and hand him a three-year deal in 2015.
Another 13 goals in 44 games followed in 2015-16 but it was the next season when the move really clicked.
Six goals in eight qualifiers – including a hat-trick against Hertha Berlin – saw Brondby just miss out on a place in the Europa League but a further 23 goals in 38 games in all competitions led to a first runners-up finish in the Danish Super League in over 10 years for the 10-time champions.
Last season there was further progress, with 17 goals in 36 league matches as Brondby again finished runners-up behind Midtjylland but lifted the Danish Cup for the first time since 2008.
Pukki had put his side 2-0 up during their 3-1 semi-final win over Midtjylland and started in the final, a 3-1 win over Silkeborg in front of over 31,000 at the home of Danish football, the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Earlier this month director of football Troels Bech wished Pukki well after confirming they had not been able to agree a contract extension.
“Teemu has proven his worth as a goal scorer in the Alka Super League, and he has proven that he mastered different playing styles under different coaches,” Bech told Brondby’s website.
“Teemu has taken the aggressive playing style which we introduced, his game understanding is good and therefore we are also sure that whatever the next step is, he will do well.
“It’s no secret that we have been trying to find an agreement with Teemu for a year and a half, so we could extend his stay, but it has not been possible to find common ground about the terms.
“We respect that, and we therefore wish Teemu and his family good luck in the future.”
Pukki was subsequently linked with Reading but will take to the Championship with the Canaries instead.
He is set to become just the second Finn to play for City, following Jonatan Johansson, a striker who made over 100 appearances for Finland and had a loan spell at Carrow Road in 2006, scoring three goals in 12 games.
But can he continue his Brondby form in England? City have given him the chance, now Pukki has to show he has learned from his Celtic spell.