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Christian Schäfer - Der Professor

Can the librarian from Dresden revolutionise football?
Started on 3 April 2016 by Justice
Latest Reply on 25 June 2018 by Justice
Who would have thought it? Schafer dominating with yet another club, all the best for next season, no doubt it will be one to remember!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

Çiçek Wins FIFA Ballon d'Or

Argentine Striker Paulo Dybala Lost Out To Tanzer Çiçek In The Voting


2025 became a year to celebrate for Arsenal's Dutch wide midfielder Tanzer Çiçek as he was awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or for his efforts over the calendar season. Çiçek became just the second English Premier League player to have won the award in the past 17 years, with Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne having picked up the top spot two years previously. Çiçek also became the first representative of Arsenal to have won the award, trumping Thierry Henry's second-place position in 2003.

Çiçek's versatility on the left flank has made him a valuable asset for The Gunners, although his ability to play in different positions has, so far, been most prominent while playing for his country. Competing for Holland on 27 occasions, Çiçek featured on the left wing a total of 19 times, playing as a left full-back during the other 8 fixtures. His ability to cross a ball was second-to-none, while his blistering pace threatened every opponent he faced.

Çiçek made the move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2025 in a €38M move from Portuguese side FC Porto. Çiçek made a combined total of 46 appearances for both clubs, and his country, and scored an impressive 10 goals, while assisting in 13 more. While he lifted no trophy in 2025, his presence in his teams was certainly noted, and left critics remarking on his tremendous ability.

Chelsea's 32 year-old striker Paulo Dybala finished in second place with 208 voting points, some 140 points behind Çiçek's tally of 348. The Argentina and Chelsea captain was named as the Premier League's Players' Player Of The Year for the 2024/2025 season, and scored a total of 28 goals, assisting in 8 more, in 49 appearances over the calendar year of 2025. Dybala has certainly come towards the twilight of his career, and narrowly missed out on the prestigious award.

Real Madrid's Mexican winger Hirving Lozano was the third best player in the world in 2025. The 30 year-old has played in a wide playmaker role for Real Madrid, and made a total of 50 appearances in 2025, scoring 5 and assisting 16. Lozano's tally of 123 points was somewhat dismal in comparison to Çiçek's and Dybala's, both the explosive winger could be set to claim the award for 2026, with his home country hosting the World Cup.

The same three players claimed the same three places in the World Player Of The Year award, and were included in a FIFA World Team Of The Year which had three English Premier League players in the starting eleven (Tanzer Çiçek, Oscar and Paulo Dybaloa) and four more on the bench (Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Memphis Depay and Flávio). Monaco stars Roman Arkhipov and Philippe Coutinho also made the starting eleven, while Real Madrid captain Isco also made the cut.

Meanwhile in Europe, it was Bayern Munich's German striker Sandro Driller who claimed the European Golden Boy award. The 21 year-old scored 33 goals in 44 appearances in 2025, and looks set to become one of the leading strikers in world football in 2026.

Previous Update: #92 - Schäfer: Future With JJK
Next Update: #94 - Liigacup 2026 Group Stage Preview
Great to see the story still going strong mate, can't wait to see what follows!
Driller looks a real prospect for Bayern :O
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

Liigacup 2026 Group Stage Preview

Christian Schäfer's JJK Will Be Hoping To Progress Beyond Group Stage


A return to the Veikkausliiga for JJK Jyväskylä also brought the arrival of Liigacup football to the Harjun Stadion, meaning Christian Schäfer's second season in charge began in early January. The Liigacup would last from January until April, provided the team would progress all the way to the final, with the Veikkausliiga season beginning in mid-April.

Christian Schäfer's JJK were drawn against familiar opposition in the form KuPS in the group stage of the competition, JJK having claimed a priceless victory in a hotly contested Väli-Suomi Derby in Suomen Cup action last season. FC Haka made up the rest of JJK's group, and the three teams would require a top-two spot, after four games, to qualify to the knock-out stages of the competition.

Liigacup Group A

FC Inter Turku headlined Group A. They were expected to dominate a group which also consisted of IFK Mariehamn and TPS. Of the three teams, FC Inter Turku was the one expected to battle it out for the trophy, and were certainly expected to at least reach the semi-finals.

Liigacup Group B

Finland's biggest club, HJK, were drawn in to Group B. They would face competition from FC Lahti and KTP for one of the two top spots, but they were certainly expected to qualify to the knockout stages with ease. They were certainly the favourites to win the trophy, and a final against FC Inter Turku was the expectation of the media.

Liigacup Group C

KuPS were the favourites to progress from Group C, while Christian Schäfer's JJK were drawn in to the group following promotion to the Veikkausliiga. FC Haka rounded up the group, and were expected to be by-standers while the other two teams looked to progress to the next round.

Liigacup Group D

SJK headlined Group D and were expected to give HJK and FC Inter Turku a run for their money throughout the competition. In order to do so, they would have to progress from a group which contained FF Jaro and HIFK Fotboll.

Previous Update: #93 - Çiçek Wins FIFA Ballon d'Or
Next Update: #95 - JJK Stroll To Liigacup Success
You've got this more than in the bag!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

JJK Stroll To Liigacup Success

Christian Schäfer's JJK Surpassed Expectations And Lifted Liigacup Trophy


It was a Liigacup campaign to remember for Christian Schäfer and JJK Jyväskylä as they surprised media and fans alike by lifting the trophy. Their success comprised of a top-place finish in the group stage, before defeating IFK Mariehamn and much-fancied HJK in the quarter finals and semi finals respectively. FC Inter Turku stood in the way of JJK in the final, but a rampant performance by Christan Schäfer's side secured the trophy for the first time in the club's history.


2-0 Win vs KuPS (A), Liigacup Group C - 10/01/2026 Attendance: 212
The scoreline did not reflect the performance. In what was a very even game at the Savon Sanomat Arena in Kuopio, KuPS may have been accused of being more deserving of the three points, but it was JJK who took their chances. Cult hero Anto Hilska bagged a brace as Christian Schäfer's team picked up all three points in their first game in the group stage of the Liigacup.
Antto Hilska (JJK) - 8.8/10

4-0 Win vs FC Haka (H), Liigacup Group C - 07/02/2026 Attendance: 145
While JJK may have been accused of being fortunate in their first game, they were certainly more than deserving of all three points against FC Haka. Genc Kovaqi and Antto Hilska both scored early on before Simon Thurling added a third before half-time. Aleksis Lehtonen came on in the second half to score one for himself, helping JJK to a resounding victory over FC Haka.
Anselmi Nurmela (JJK) - 8.7/10

2-0 Win vs KuPS (H), Liigacup Group C - 21/02/2026 Attendance: 250
With one foot in the next round, JJK required just one point to guarantee progress. A boring first half ended goalless, but Iiro Järvinen scored a powerful header to open the scoring just over a minute in to the second half. Captain Saku Leppänen added to the scoring with a low swerving effort, securing top spot in the group, with one game to spare.
Saku Leppänen (JJK) - 9.0/10

2-3 Loss vs FC Haka (A), Liigacup Group C - 14/03/2026 Attendance: 95
No matter the result in this game, JJK would only finish in first place. In light of this, manager Christian Schäfer rotated the entire squad, and handed out a debut to 17 year old goalkeeper Marko Leppänen. It was a very even game, but FC Haka held a 2-0 lead after 50 minutes. Goals from Aleksis Lehtonen and Mikael Luostarinen brought the game level 6 minutes later, but Haka restored their lead on the hour mark to sink an inexperienced JJK side.
Mikael Luostarinen (JJK) - 9.0/10

3-1 Win vs IFK Mariehamn (H), Liigacup Quarter Final - 16/03/2026 Attendance: 200
JJK were happy enough to not face one of the big teams in the quarter finals, but IFK Mariehamn proved to be more than adequate opposition. The away team controlled the first half and scored first through Robin Lod, but JJK's Simon Thurling was quick to respond with a tidy finish, ensuring his team went in to half-time level. JJK asserted themselves in the second half and Antto Hilska gave them the lead with a clever flick over the keeper from a low Kovaqi cross. Captain Saku Leppänen secured victory with a stoppage time goal, sending his team to the semi finals.
Simon Thurling (JJK) - 8.6/10

0-0 (3-1 Penalties) Win vs HJK (A), Liigacup Semi Final - 23/03/2026 Attendance: 594
JJK were up against the biggest club in Finland in the semi final, but they did not let the occasion get the better of them. While HJK appeared to have a hold on the game, brave defending and fantastic organisation proved to be enough for JJK to force a penalty shootout. While JJK scored all three of their opening three penalties, HJK scored just two of theirs. HJK's Sylvain Kouakou then missed to concede defeat to Christian Schäfer's JJK, allowing the German's side passage to the final.
Mikko Järvenpää (HJK) - 8.3/10

3-0 Win vs FC Inter Turku (N), Liigacup Final - 01/04/2026 Attendance: 670
Having never won the trophy before, JJK were expected to concede defeat to FC Inter Turku, who were heavily backed to win the trophy. However, Christian Schäfer's team were well-prepared and proved to be tactically secure against an unsuspecting FC Inter. Mikael Luostarinen broke the deadlock for JJK late on in the first half, and Genc Kovaqi doubled their advantage just before half-time. FC Inter fought desperately to break back in to the team, but their efforts proved futile as JJK stood firm. With the clock running down in stoppage time, there was time for one more goal for JJK as Aleksis Lehtonen, who was filling in for the injured Antto Hilska, scored to secure a rampant victory in the final.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 9.0/10

Previous Update: #94 - Liigacup 2026 Group Stage Preview
Next Update: #96 - Schäfer Extends Jyväskylä Stay Until 2028
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

Schäfer Extends Jyväskylä Stay Until 2028

Christian Schäfer Signed A Two-Year Contract Extension With JJK Jyväskylä


JJK Jyväskylä fans have been given reason to rejoice as it was announced by the club, and the manager himself, that Christian Schäfer extended his contract with the club until 2028. Schäfer's previous deal was due to expire in eight months, but has committed himself to the club for another two seasons after the current one.

The German manager joined the club in December 2024 and his first season in charge (2025) resulted in Liga Ykkönen victory, as well as an unexpected Suomen Cup triumph which means that JJK will enter the 2026/2027 UEFA Europa League in the First Qualifying Round. Schäfer's JJK have just recently claimed the Liigacup following a comfortable 3-0 victory over much-fancied FC Inter Turku in the final, and Schäfer's accomplishments with the club, to date, have seen earn a wage rise from €450 per week to a staggering €600 per week.

Christian Schäfer:
"It is a fantastic moment for me to have agreed to prolong my stay at JJK Jyväskylä for an additional two years, following the current one. It was important for myself to ensure my future is here, and I am both delighted and grateful that the chairman, Markus Knuutinen, saw fit to extend my time here.

JJK has a great future, and I think it is fair to say that we achieved a lot together in such a short time. We are finally back in Finland's top flight, thirteen years after relegation, and we wish to stay in the Veikkausliiga for as long as possible. We also have European football to look forward to in the coming months when we participate in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League, and I look forward to guiding the team on our European adventure.

The players and staff deserve a lot of credit for the work they have done since I arrived, and I certainly believe that they can help bring the club to the very pinnacle of Finnish football. Our objective over the next few years is to secure stability in the Veikkausliiga, and continue to challenge for the Liigacup and Suomen Cup, both of which we are currently champions. We are one of just two semi-professional clubs in this division, and so our aim is to reach a financial state where we can successfully make the transition to professional status without compromising the future of the football club.

We have played some fantastic football over the last year, and we hope to produce some more exciting play for the fans, who have been fantastic in supporting the club. We may not be the biggest club or have the best facilities, but the support of the fans has been unwavering and encouraging for myself, and for my colleagues. There will, of course, be difficult moments for the football club but if the fans can continue to show patience and support, just as they have so far, then they will, hopefully, witness some great memories created by the players."

Previous Update: #95 - JJK Stroll To Liigacup Success
Next Update: #97 - April 2026
Great news about the extension and congratulations for the cup win!
"Staggering €600 per week", how the mighty have fallen ;) Seriously, great to see you have a long-term plan for JJK!
mgriffin2012, thank you!

Jack, yeah I felt it was important to secure my future at the club, and I actually requested a new contract rather than wait around and hope for one... Luckily enough, the board felt it was the right decision to extend my contract and now I can plan for the future of the club without any worries :)
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

April 2026

An Overview Of JJK Jyväskylä's Month In Football For April


JJK Jyväskylä began the month of April by competing in the final of the Liigacup against FC Inter Turku. The competition provided a competitive warm up for the players of Veikkausliiga clubs ahead of the new season, which started in April, following the final. Suomen Cup action for Finland's top clubs also went underway in what was a busy month on the pitch for Christian Schäfer's team.


3-0 Win vs FC Inter Turku (N), Liigacup Final - 01/04/2026 Attendance: 670
Having never won the trophy before, JJK were expected to concede defeat to FC Inter Turku, who were heavily backed to win the trophy. However, Christian Schäfer's team were well-prepared and proved to be tactically secure against an unsuspecting FC Inter. Mikael Luostarinen broke the deadlock for JJK late on in the first half, and Genc Kovaqi doubled their advantage just before half-time. FC Inter fought desperately to break back in to the team, but their efforts proved futile as JJK stood firm. With the clock running down in stoppage time, there was time for one more goal for JJK as Aleksis Lehtonen, who was filling in for the injured Antto Hilska, scored to secure a rampant victory in the final.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 9.0/10

1-0 Win vs FC Lahti (H), Veikkausliiga - 12/04/2026 Attendance: 2,493
Christian Schäfer's JJK began their Veikkausliiga with an inspiring home victory over the much-favoured FC Lahti, although the fixture did little to settle the supporters' nerves ahead of a relegation-battling campaign. Both sides had their fair share of chances to score, but it was JJK's Genc Kovaqi who scored the decisive goal before half time as he tucked a low shot in to the bottom left corner following intricate build-up play in the middle of the park.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 7.5/10

0-1 Loss vs SJK (A), Veikkausliiga - 19/04/2026 Attendance: 2,767
Following a promising start to the season, JJK's players and fans were brought back down to earth as they suffered defeat at the hands of SJK. It was a very evenly-matched contest on the pitch, and it took a jaw-dropping goal to separate the two sides. Vesa Ahvenkoski delivered the killing blow early on in the second half as he dispatched a low driven free-kick from all of thirty-five yards which bounced twice before beating JJK's goalkeeper and finding the bottom corner. It truly was a sensational goal, and a worthy winner of any fixture.
Vesa Ahvenkoski (SJK) - 8.5/10

3-2 (ET) Win vs KuPS (H), Suomen Cup 6th Round - 22/04/2026 Attendance: 2,057
If ever there was a game to settle the nerves of the fans, this was not it. The third Väli-Suomi derby of 2026 was a thrilling one, with 120 minutes of play and five goals. JJK's captain Saku Leppänen opened the scoring in the second half with a superb volley from inside the box, but KuPS' star striker Ansu Sherrif leveled the score a minute later with a clever turn and low shot after being put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Iiro Järvinen restored JJK's lead with fifteen minutes to go, but Toni Länsimies had other ideas, as KuPS equalised once more, just minutes after Järvinen's strike. The game was brought to extra time to attempt to separate the two sides, and full-back Anselmi Nurmela managed to do so in spectacular fashion. On the right flank and just in to the opposition half, Nurmela spotted KuPS' keeper off his line and attempted an audacious lob. His effort creeped under the crossbar and in to the far corner to deliver the killer blow in the derby, and in spectacular fashion.
Topias Tammelin (JJK) - 8.4/10

1-1 Draw vs HIFK Fotboll (H), Veikkausliiga - 26/04/2026 Attendance: 2,261
Exhausted from their Suomen Cup exhertions mid-week, JJK players may have found themselves guilty of complacency in a game which they should have won. Genc Kovaqi headed home Niko Markkula's deep cross to give the home side the lead with twenty-five minutes remaining. It should have been a victory for JJK, but defensive complacency with just minutes remaining allowed the away team to level the game.
Jari Räsänen (HIFK Fotboll) - 8.2/10

1-0 Win vs TPS (A), Veikkausliiga - 30/04/2026 Attendance: 1,774
JJK were back to winning ways in the league following a fruitful trip to TPS. Having conducted extensive research on the opposition, Christian Schäfer opted to begin the game with his team lining up in a defensive 5-4-1 structure, holding possession of the ball and providing no avenue of attack to the opposition. Following seventy minutes of frustrating the home side, Schäfer changed the shape of his team and brought on three fresh attackers in order to land a killing blow on a tired and nervy opposition. Joona Itkonen provided the goal as he scored a powerful header from Mikael Luostarinen's corner.
Joona Itkonen (JJK) - 8.0/10

Player Of The Month

Joona Itkonen produced a very solid month of football in defence. While he primarily played as a left back over the course of the month, he played in central defence in a back row of five defenders against TPS. His goal in the game proved to be a decisive winner, and one which appeared to lift the morale of the team significantly.

Joona Itkonen's Season Stats:

Appearances: 11
Goals: 1 (1,016 minutes per goal)
Assists: 0
MotM Awards: 1

Attacking Play
Shots On Target Ratio: 40% (2/5)
Dribbles Completed: 10 (0.89 per game)
Key Passes: 12 (1.09 per game)
Cross Completion Ratio: 7.69% (2/26)

Defensive Play
Key Tackles: 2 (0.18 per game)
Tackles Won Ratio: 87.5% (28/32)
Interceptions: 128 (11.64 per game)
Mistakes: 25 (2.27 per game)
Disciplinary Record
Fouls Committed: 14 (1.27 per game)
Fouls Against: 0
Yellow Cards: 1
Red Cards: 0

General Play
Pass Completion Ratio: 71% (415/581)
Headers Won: 88 (8 per game)
Distance Covered: 11.45km per game
Key Moments: 15 (1.36 per game)
Matches Won Ratio: 64% (7/11)
Average Rating: 7.32

Assistant Manager's Report
Current Ability:
Potential Ability:


A mixed, but equally impressive, month for JJK saw them in a very respectable fourth place after their opening four league games. With seven points between themselves and the single relegation spot of the division, Christian Schäfer was sure to focus on closing the gap between JJK and those above them in the league, rather than looking behind him to hold the gap between themselves and last-placed KTP.

JJK Jyväskylä News

JJK Jyväskylä announced an affiliation with Finnish Second Division East team FC Kiffen 08. Nicknamed 'Mustat hurmurit', FC Kiffen 08 play their football in Helsinki. The main objective behind the affiliation was for JJK to be able to loan players to Kiffen without any difficulty, so that these players could gain experience playing at a senior, but lower, level.

May Fixtures

May promised another busy month of football for JJK. It promised seven Veikkausliiga fixtures, including 2026's fourth addition of the Väli-Suomir derby against KuPS, and a trip to league contenders HJK at the end of the month. JJK were also drawn against HJK in the Suomen Cup quarter final, and would face the Helsinki giants mid-month in this tie.

Previous Update: #96 - Schäfer Extends Jyväskylä Stay Until 2028
Next Update: #98 - May 2026
Good month but, can't believe only 670 people turned up for the cup final. Expect more from the fans
Not the best way to start the season but still a decent start nevertheless
KuPS!! I remember FM Rookie's story on that, you're literally recreating his dynasty except at JJK, madness! :P

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