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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice
Devastating news for Aapo and Leena. A soul-crushing thing to happen for anybody.
I am very sorry for your loss Mr Virtanen. Sending my best wishes x
An incredibly powerful update that captured the sheer range of emotions that must go through a new parents mind especially when they have to travel In such a quick time. To then have the devastating news to be bought down on Aapo and Leena. Excellent update and I wonder how this will affect Aapo and his job at City.
Forget about the football. At a time like this they need to be together :(

Manchester City’s heroic Champions League Final performance against AS Monaco last night has been shrouded in sadness after the news of Aapo Virtanen’s first baby passing away shortly after childbirth.

Virtanen led his side to an astounding 5-0 victory over Thierry Henry’s AS Monaco, with Nobuhiro Furuya netting a first-half hat-trick which effectively ended the game as a contest at half-time as Monaco went into the break 4-0 down after another goal from their former midfielder Alexandr Golovin went in to dampen any hopes of a comeback.

At around ten o’clock in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico, the Manchester City staff and players were all on the pitch celebrating their back-to-back Champions League victory meanwhile Virtanen disappeared from the trophy presentation to attend the birth of his baby boy to his partner Leena Uronen.

Shortly after his arrival in at University Hospital in Frankfurt - where his partner had been working that evening - Leena gave birth to a boy in the early hours of Sunday morning with Aapo Virtanen by her side. Little over one hour after the child’s birth it was discovered that the birth had proven fatal for the couple’s baby.

Manchester City released a short club statement shortly after the news regarding their manager’s child was confirmed:
”Everybody involved at Manchester City Football Club are deeply distraught to hear of the gravely saddening news of Aapo Virtanen and his partner, Leena Uronen’s child. Everyone at the club will be doing absolutely anything for the couple to recover from this dark and irreparable loss.”

Tributes across the footballing world including Virtanen’s first football club AC Oulu and last night’s opponents AS Monaco have been pouring in for the couple following the terrible tragedy that happened early this morning.

A spokesperson for the couple and families involved have thanked everybody for their kind comments and wishes for people to respect the couples privacy as the long road to recovery begins for the Helsinki-born football manager Virtanen and contract lawyer Uronen.

With the 2026 World Cup in America, Canada and Mexico beginning next month, it is not known yet whether or not Aapo Virtanen will be assuming his role as the first-team manager for the Finland national football team in the warm-up friendly against Venezuela or the opening fixture of the competition against the hosts Mexico at the Estadio Jalisco.

In the meantime, Aapo Virtanen’s Manchester City assistant manager and long-term friend Thomas Jorgensen will be taking control of the squads as the summer break begins.

Justice: Has to be the saddest experience on this story yet, that's for sure.

ThatSouthendLad: His spokesman thanks you for your kind words :)

TheLFCFan: From absolute ecstasy after winning the Champions League, to learning his child is about to be born only to have it all torn away from him. Gutting to say the least.

ML Scouter: All rivalries aside for this one!
Not a final that Aapo got to celebrate for too long. I'm sure he'll recover from this latest personal nightmare, however.
Wow. That previous update was so fantastically written. Such a tragic event to occur and a heartbreaking situation for everyone involved; whether that be the parents or the nurse who had to deliver the news. I suspect the next few weeks, especially, will be very difficult for both Aapo and Leena, despite the fantastic result in the UEFA Champions League final.

The 2025-26 season ended in delight in footballing terms with the FA Cup and Champions League being secured but tragically on personal terms for me with my baby. We finished top of the league on goal difference after being closely pursued by Carlo Ancelotti’s Arsenal.

April began wonderfully with a 4-1 victory over Southampton courtesy of another Kylian Mbappé hat-trick. This was closely followed just three days later with a trip to Wembley for a Manchester Derby in the FA Cup Semi-Final. We defeated out city rivals 3-2 in extra-time thanks to a 114th minute Leon Bailey winner. We returned to the Champions League with another Italian opponent after Fiorentina as we faced Internazionale in the quarter-finals. We smashed them 4-0 at home before a 1-0 defeat at the Giuseppe Meazza sent us into the semi-finals with a 4-1 aggregate score. We came back to domestic football against a Champions League-chasing Liverpool team and lost out as Loric Kasongo scored an 81st minute winner for The Reds. Another Champions League chasing team followed in the form of West Ham United and we seemingly ended their chances of such European qualification thanks to a late, late Luigi Bruno 95th minute winner. Blackburn Rovers were flattened 6-0 before we flew back to Milan for the third Italian team in a row in the Champions League as we faced AC Milan. The home leg gave Milan a handy draw with two away goals before we lost a crucial title-race game against Arsenal 4-0 with Federico Chiesa bagging a brace for Ancelotti’s side which sent the title race down to the wire.

In May we began poorly as we lost 3-2 to Newcastle United in another crucial game which could have cost us the Premier League title. We returned to the San Siro for the second time in two months as the away leg of the Champions League Semi-Final against AC Milan took place. They arguably had the advantage with two away goals so it was absolutely pivotal that we won this game which we did late on as Kylian Mbappé scored a 91st-minute winner to send us to the Stadio Olimpico. We won the Premier League title on the final day against Fulham as Arsenal beat Blackburn 4-0 and we beat Fulham 3-1, leading to a win on goal difference as the season came to a close. The FA Cup Final followed a week later against Everton which was finished in extra-time with a late Dele Alli winner in the 116th minute. Finally, our biggest game of the season arrived at the end of May as we played AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League Final. Monaco had surprised everyone in the Semi-Final 2nd leg as they headed into the tie 3-0 down against Real Madrid, but returned a 6-1 scoreline at home to send them into the final. We ended the season with an incredible 5-0 victory against Thierry Henry’s side with Nobuhiro Furuya leading us to the title with a first-half hat-trick.

Manchester United and Liverpool finished level on points in the Champions League qualification spots, five points ahead of 5th placed Tottenham Hotspur who qualified for the Europa League alongside Chelsea and West Ham United (thanks to our wins in the League Cup and FA Cup).

There was a blatant divide between the top and bottom half this season with Everton stuck in-between the two halves.

All of the promoted teams from the Championship this season were all relegated straight away with Leeds United only managing to lift themselves from the foot of the table late on, being replaced at the bottom by Brentford. Blackburn Rovers were five points away from safety with my AC Oulu successor Simo Valakari in charge at Ewood Park.

The three relegated sides will be replaced by the Championship title-winners Wolverhampton Wanderers, who dominated the second tier by amassing 104 points with Adam Idah and Luka Jovic finishing as the top two scorers in the division whilst playing for Christian Lonstrupp’s side. Stoke City also safely secured an instant return to the top flight by finishing 2nd by 12 points. It was West Bromwich Albion who won the Play-Off Final with a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, earning a return to the Premier League.

This season is without doubt the best season of my career as we lifted six out of the available seven trophies this season. The only one we missed out on - the FA Community Shield - was decided on penalties as we drew 3-3 with Arsenal after extra-time. We retain the Premier League for a third season running as the club wins its 11th Premier League title as we slowly catch up with our rivals Man United’s 20 titles and Liverpool who equal that record.

With our 5-0 final victory against AS Monaco, we won the club's third Champions League trophy after winning it last year under Ancelotti and in 2019 with Pep Guardiola. We are well on our way to becoming a truly established player on the world stage, catching up with everyone else’s title count one trophy at a time.

We took the Club World Cup title away from Real Madrid this year after winning our first back in 2019 as we defeated our affiliate club New York City FC in the Semi-Finals before finishing off Independiente with a 4-1 scoreline in the Final in South Korea.

The UEFA Super Cup was also taken away from Real Madrid this season, winning our second title with a 1-0 win over Juventus during an international break, meaning most players from both sides were unavailable. Niklas Sule scored an early goal which ultimately made us champions of this award.

The FA Cup was won with an extra-time 3-2 win after Dele Alli scored the winner in the 116th minute against Steve McClaren’s Everton side who finished 10th in the Premier League. McClaren was sacked the day after the FA Cup Final loss.

The League Cup was won in February with a 2-0 win over Chelsea as both Luigi Bruno and Mauro Icardi bagged goals to win our third trophy at the time.

2025-26 Best XI

In this year’s best eleven, Ederson makes the grade over January signing Juan Otálvaro following some outstanding performances in the first half of the campaign.

His defensive four that earned best eleven finishes consisted of Patrick Handwerker, who signed for his Schalke release clause of £74 million last summer. Nélson Semedo won his spot at right-back for the majority of the season despite him getting older now. Andrea Marcato is still only 22 years old yet he has matured into an absolutely sensational centre-back that could become the new Vincent Kompany if he sticks around at the club long enough. He was joined by Niklas Sule, who won the Super Cup for us earlier this year with the only goal of the game.

Nobuhiro Furuya features in the best eleven in the midfield two alongside Alexandr Golovin. The Japanese midfielder starred in the Champions League Final and arguably won us the trophy with a hat-trick in the first-half. Golovin was also incredibly good at going forward as both him, Furuya and Kovacic all scored a combined 30 goals this season.

Leroy Sané still possesses his blistering pace which earned him a lot of plaudits when he first joined years ago. This season he contributed 18 goals to the total meanwhile Leon Bailey netted 20 goals in less games than the German. Bailey has proven to be a very shrewd purchase by then-manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The two strikers, Icardi and Mbappé complemented each other unbelievably well, even by their own standards. Mbappé had his best season in his career yet with 58 goals in just 62 games, averaging almost a goal every game including 36 goals coming in the Premier League.

On the bench, Juan Otálvaro features alongside out £100million purchase of Matthijs De Ligt who actually struggled to get in ahead of Marcato and Sule this season thanks to their own quality. Dele Alli had another superb season at the club with 15 goals in just 44 appearances. We have renewed the contract of 33-year-old left-back David Alaba as I believe that he still has some necessary qualities needed as a back-up to Handwerker. However, Kevin De Bruyne will be departing the club after completing ten years at the club.

Overall Best XI

In comparison with the overall best eleven since 2018/19, both John Stones (now at Huddersfield) and Raphael Varane (now at Roma) make up the centre-backs as opposed to Marcato and Sule. Álex Grimaldo (now at Shakhtar Donetsk) also replaces both Handwerker and Alaba at the left-back spot but Nélson Semedo retains his spot.

Bernardo Silva (now at Real Madrid) also replaces Leon Bailey who is moved down to the bench out on the right-wing. Dele Alli pushes Mauro Icardi down to the bench as the City squad was more accustomed to a 4-2-3-1 formation under Guardiola, Emery and Ancelotti as opposed to our goal-crazy 4-4-2 in order to fit in both of our incredible strikers.

Justice: We will have to find out how much of a toll it takes on Virtanen...

Scott: It was a sad piece to write for sure, especially knowing people who have had to suffer similar experiences. We will have to see where this takes the couple!
An absolutely fantastic season for Virtanen on the pitch. To win every trophy possible, beside the Community Shield, shows the force Manchester City are in not just English football, but European and continental football. For Aapo to almost collect trophies like he has over the past season shows that his ability in the dugout cannot be matched. I suspect we'll see his City side continue to dominate over the next few years.
Mbappé's goal record is borderline ridiculous. That's Messi/Ronaldo territory.

Following his Champions League winning management a fortnight ago, Finland manager Aapo Virtanen has announced his side for the upcoming 2026 World Cup, held in the USA, Canada and Mexcico.

The squad unsurprisingly contains some of Virtanen’s old players from his AC Oulu days, with no less than five players in the official announcement being players that he has worked with at club level during his dominant time in the Veikkausliiga of which he won on four consecutive occasions before moving on to join Fiorentina in December 2023.

In terms of goalkeepers, Lukasz Hradecky has been handed the number one jersey as it is his preferred number, meanwhile Tuomas Keskinen and Otso Virtanen have been given the number 13 and number 23 shirts respectively. Despite Hradecky having the number in the starting eleven, it is suggested from within the Finland camp that it will be in fact AC Oulu youth graduate and current Sevilla goalkeeper Keskinen who will be on the first-team sheet at the World Cup even though the youngster only has four caps to Hradecky’s 99 caps.

It is likely that Teemu Tainio’s son, Maximus Tainio will start at right-back for Finland as he bags the number 6 shirt, with Tariq Kazi to be a back-up for the NYCFC player. Two of Virtanen’s old guards from Oulu have been selected at centre-back with Aleksi Niemi (now at Montreal) and Noah Nurmi (now at Cádiz) bagging the number 5 and number 18 shirts, with Rubin Kazan’s Sauli Vaisanen and the former Leeds United defender Aapo Halme being the other options in central defence. On the left side of the defence, Virtanen has selected Jere Uronen who has appeared 99 times for his nation’s senior team.

Aapo Virtanen has chosen a lot of central midfielders which could indicate a new system in place from the one we saw at the European Championships two years ago. Antti Huhtamaki and Oliver Antman were both integral to Virtanen’s Oulu side before moving abroad and they both have starting eleven numbers. Other options in the middle include Kaan Kairinen of LAFC, Glen Kamaras, Robin Lod, Thomas Lam and Heracles’ Fredrik Jensen.

On the right-wing, Virtanen chooses another Oulu youth graduate in Jukka Linnaluoto who earned a £500,000 move to Udinese last summer and is said to be one of the breakthrough talents in this new-look Finland side. He will compete with Slavia Praha’s Saku Ylatupa for the starting spot. On the left, Lassi Lappalainen looks like he may be the starting left-winger after a great European Championships in 2024. He will be up against Maximo Tolonen for that particular spot.

Virtanen has only selected two strikers for his Finland World Cup team. The presumed starting striker will be the national side’s new all-time top scorer Joel Pohjanpalo who beat Jari Litmanen’s record of 33 goals after netting against Israel in March. Pohjanpalo will be up against Virtanen’s star striker from his Oulu days - Teemu Savolainen. Virtanen snapped him up as an 18-year-old whilst he was playing for Turun Palloseura and Savolainen went from strength-to-strength under Virtanen’s guidance as he scored 60 goals in 92 league games for Oulu, winning five Veikkausliiga titles under Virtanen and later Sami Valakari. He now plays for Trabzonspor in Turkey and won the Turkish top-flight last season, scoring 13 goals in 24 league games and is now valued at £5million, sky-high compared to the £18,000 that Virtanen paid for him back in 2020.

Under the new structure, Finland will play only two group stage fixtures. Their opener is up against one of the hosts as the Estadio Jalisco offers Mexico v Finland. Their second fixture and final group stage game will be at the same location as Finland take on Francisco García’s Ecuador side.

Scott: Virtanen is trying to build on the legacy that Pep Guardiola left behind, that's for sure. There are many of the old players still left from those days but it could be time to rebuild the squad in the not-so-distant future in my own image.

Justice: It's just absolutely stupendous to be honest ain't it.
I recognise a fair few of those names and it's astonishing to think of the success Aapo has had with this squad. Mexico will be a difficult challenge in the opening game, however there is an opportunity to progress, nonetheless. Good luck!
It is hard to take the graphic seriously when the regens make the more normal faces.
Loving the updates, Jack. Great work on dominating with Citeh, which was expected. But loving the side story. You really brought out the emotion with what happened to Aapo, being in a similar situation myself, it was like being back there again when reading it.

Certainly looking forward to where you go with it next. Great work.
An incredible season for Aapo domestically. Now in his final tournament with the national side, lets see how he can cap a great International career off.

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