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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
Jack's avatar Group Jack
3 yearsEdited

6th June 2026

“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to us though, Aapo!” Leena cried. Six days on from the tragedy of our baby I had suggested that I head back to lead the Finland team in the World Cup. “I couldn’t care less if this is ‘the biggest moment of your career’, our baby has just died!”

I knew that what I was going to say was going to be misinterpreted as me being self-interested, but I didn’t care. “Leena, our baby hasn’t just died. He died nearly a week ago now. I mean, how long is this mourning process going to go on for exactly? Another week, a month? Six months? A year?” I said, leaning down in an almost interrogative manner.

She sat silently with the only noise from her being her sobbing. “I just think that this is so much more sensitive than you actually are getting across!” She finally said, raising her voice above her blubbering. “You make it sound like this has barely even affected yo-”

“How dare you even suggest that!” I said angrily, with my teeth gritted as I swiftly turned around to face her. “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and will ever happen to me! Yet here you are accusing me of not caring! Just for wanting a distraction from the constant depression that I’m living under within this house? That is a ridiculous thing to say and I’m not even sure if you’re aware of how stupid that is.”

Leena stopped sobbing as I turned away to face the wall again. As soon as she stopped I turned back round to face her as I knew that she would have something to say. “I can’t believe that you are so narcissistic to put the fame of fucking World Cup that you know that you’re not even going to win before the death of your own baby boy. It’s times like these where I absolutely cannot stand you, Aapo.” Leena said, curving her lips into a circle as she said it as if it was a funnel with insults coming out of the end.

I took a step back to comprehend what she had just said to me. Leena had never spoken to me like this ever before and it was a completely new area for me to handle. “Leena, this isn’t about gaining fame or achievement at all, I don’t care what you say. This is about me taking myself away from the travesty of this week and moving myself into an environment where I am not constantly thinking about this because digging a hole this deep in your mind is not going to get us anywhere,” I paused, watching Leena glare at me and hanging for my next words. I knew what I was going to say. “I’m going to the tournament, Leena.”

Leena’s mouth hung open, letting off a sarcastic laugh even though a tear dripped down her cheek at the same time. “Well, I think me and you are just about done, then. Fuck off to America or Canada or Mexico - wherever the hell it is you’re going. Just don’t expect me to be waiting her for you when you come back,”

At that point I decided to exit the room. I could sense Leena was getting hysterical and overworked by the whole scenario. I went into the kitchen to pick up my suitcase and rucksack before heading to the front door.

“Yeah that’s it, Aapo! Walk out to all the people who are leeching off you back home! You absolute coward!” I heard her screaming from the living room. I blanked it out of my mind as I shut the door slowly.

Making my way down the drive I turned back to look through the window to see Leena’s face pushed up against the glass with her finger pointing violently at me. We had triple glazed windows so her protests were muffled into vibrations but the look on her face remained in my head all through the journey to the airport.

Either way, I had one job to do now and that was in the World Cup.

Scott: They have performed well beyond expectations at every stage. The regens who are involved in the squad have also dramatically influenced its direction with some great prospects coming through the ranks at Oulu in particular.

Justice: Not the best-looking bunch are they?

SonOfAnarchy: Thanks mate! Obviously very sorry to hear that you found yourself in a similar place but its appreciated that I was able to reflect that experience in a realistic sense.

TheLFCFan: A great season indeed. A good send-off is required before he leaves Finland for good in my opinion! ;)
I can emphasise with Leena here. I completely understand her perspective and understand her frustrations towards Aapo. For him to not understand her grief, to the level she feels, must be very difficult for her to comprehend. Grief can last for a long-time and as such, it's perfectly normal for an individual to go into a period of mourning like she has for a while. This can vary. Carrying a child and then delivering it is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated, but unfortunately for her, it wasn't. I suspect it will be a long time for her to finally accept it and move on, and in ways, she won't ever move on.

This update was powerful and addressed a difficult issue very well, well done.

I hope this isn't the last we see of Leena and Aapo realises before it's too late. His duties with the Finnish national team are important, but what is more important to him? Or can he afford to gamble? I'm intrigued!
This update, to me, shows the different ways in which people can deal with grief, perfectly. Where Leena is mourning the loss of her baby and staying indoors allowing her emotions to flood out, Aapo is looking to find a way of distracting himself from thinking about the terrible loss he has suffered. I am not sure which way is best as both have its positives and negatives but the pair do need to stick together and be supportive of each others ways of dealing with the tragedy no matter how difficult that is.

Finland carried on their marvellous international tournament form yesterday as a win over Ecuador made them top of their World Cup group after winning both fixtures.

With Aapo Virtanen missing Finland’s warm-up fixture against Venezuela before the start of the competition, his presence was certainly felt in his side’s first game against one of the hosts, Mexico.

All-time top Finnish goalscorer Joel Pohjanpalo added his 35th Finland goal with a 33rd minute opener against Mexico. SPAL 2013’s Robin Lod then doubled Finland’s lead against Pedro Caixinha’s side before Edson Álvarez pulled a goal back for the hosts at the Estadio Jalisco.

With only one goal separating the two sides in this huge game due to the World Cup’s new format making every game count, the last few minutes were extremely nervy for fans of both nations. It was down to AC Oulu youth prodigy Jukka Linnaluoto to give Finland some much-needed breathing space with an 85th minute goal to give Finland the vital three points and send the hosts back with nothing.

Yesterday afternoon, Guadalajara’s Estadio Jalisco played host to the second and final group game between Finland and the South American country Ecuador.

Ecuador certainly didn’t have as much quality as Mexico did but by yesterday, Mexico hasd already been confirmed as being knocked out of their own World Cup as Junior Sornoza secured a crucial 1-0 win against them in their previous game.

This game was to decide who would take the top spot and therefore potentially get a more favourable draw in the Second Round.

In the 32nd minute it was Aapo Virtanen’s trusty friend Oliver Antman - who played under him at Oulu - who gave Finland the lead over Ecuador. Joel Pohjanpalo then confirmed the victory and the group win with a 72nd minute goal - his 36th goal for his country - to make the game 2-0.

Finland have been drawn against Group F runners-up Romania for the Second Round after beating Ghana to qualification by just one goal and Colombia taking first spot thanks to a better disciplinary record.

The full Second Round draw is documented here:
Argentina v Turkey
Cameroon v U.S.A
Chile v South Korea
Colombia v Ecuador
Congo v Switzerland
Croatia v Belgium
Denmark v Venezuela
Finland v Romania
France v Nigeria
Holland v Tunisia
Italy v Uruguay
Ivory Coast v Portugal
Serbia v Brazil
Spain v DR Congo
Sweden v Morocco
Trinidad & Tobago v England

Scott: I think it defines the boundaries of which both men and women are different emotionally - especially when there are children involved. Leena will have had a motherly connection with the baby despite not getting to see him alive whereas Aapo has to make him and Leena the money. It's taking it back down to core societal positions except in extremely unfortunate circumstances. Leena certainly deserves a little more attention and explanation though.

TheLFCFan: I'm glad I was able to get it across in the way I intended to when I wrote it. People deal with things in different ways, especially when the sexes differ and some don't understand others' coping mechanisms which is where this is heading for sure.
Great to see Finland carrying on their successes internationally, and a draw against Romania is one they should see through. And how Trinindad and Tabago made it so far, well that's a question!
Great work. Romania certainly present a winnable tie for Finland in the next round, although Virtanen's side cannot afford to underestimate them. Some very surprising sides left in the competition, such as DR Congo and Trinidad & Tobago. Has Kenwyne Jones come back out of retirement? ;)
Good to see you do well, Scott should take note of Pohjanpalo's prolific nature in front of goal. Romania may prove to be a challenging opposition. They have some talented players and have a history of playing some very competitive football. Be wary of the threat they pose, although a manager as potent as Aapo should have no problems in preparing.

As for Leena.... she must have been...... FUUUUUMIIINNGGG

Aapo Virtanen’s Finland had to use all five penalties to their advantage to qualify for the Third Round of the World Cup against Romania yesterday lunchtime.

Finland left-back Jere Uronen opened the scoring for Finland in the 27th minute with a great strike from the left edge of the box into the far corner. However, their lead didn’t last until the half-time break as Romania’s George Puscas equalised to make it 1-1 just before the break with a header at the far post.

The game went quiet in the second half right up until a very dramatic last ten minutes. Romania conceded a penalty in the 83rd minute after Daniel Galan tripped Robin Lod in the box as the momentum took the Finnish 33-year-old over the centre-back’s foot. Lod was the man designated as Finland’s first-choice penalty-taker. The central midfielder initially had his penalty saved by Romania’s goalkeeper Iulian Rusu but Lod was quick to react to the rebound and netted what looked like the winning goal given Virtanen’s defensive approach to international fixtures.

The game was not over though as Dennis Man sent Romania fans into raptures with another 87th minute equaliser to make the game 2-2 and destined for extra-time.

Extra-time was a torrid affair of Finland clearing the ball mixed in with Romania’s hopeful long balls forward, looking to find the lone striker Puscas with any ball going. With the only main action of extra-time being a naughty challenge by Kaan Kairinen, earning a booking, the game was always heading straight for penalties. Although even on most statistics, Romania dominated possession throughout with 68% of the ball after 120 minutes of play.

Finland won the coin toss and elected to go first in the 2026 World Cup’s first penalty shootout. The defensive midfielder Glen Kamara was the first to take a penalty and slotted it smoothly into the bottom right-hand corner. Finland then went on to score all five of their penalties - including Robin Lod who had initially missed his penalty in normal time - in what was a great lesson in composure and finishing.

It was Romania’s star striker George Puscas who had scored earlier in the game who eventually let his side down after he missed his side’s second penalty. Given Finland’s excellent penalties, Romania didn’t even have their chance to take a fifth penalty as the score was already settled by then, with the result ending 2-2 after extra time before Finland won 5-3 on penalties and move on to the next round of the biggest tournament on the planet.

The same day, Finland’s group rivals Ecuador defeated Colombia with a Billy Arce brace meanwhile England secured an emphatic 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago before Uruguay went through on penalties against Italy after a goalless draw ended after extra-time.

After Uruguay’s penalty shootout against Italy ended, it was then that Finland found out their opponents for the Third Round of the World Cup as they are all set to take Pablo Correa’s Uruguay on this coming Sunday.

BigMaguire: Romania are certainly a kinder draw than potential others that qualified for this round! Trinidad & Tobago are loving life at the moment! ;)

Scott: Yeah, as I was saying to Maguire it was a nice draw for us to advance, even if we did drag the result out a bit longer than we should have done. There is no Kenwyne Jones involved with Trinidad & Tobago unfortunately, however, Sol Campbell is their assistant manager for some reason?!

Justice: Joel Pohjanpalo is definitely teaching a few lessons in scoring goals, that's for sure. Romania did have some glimpses of quality throughout, especially with their striker Puscas but their tactics were easily figured out early on. As for Leena, we'll deal with her once Aapo gets back ;)
Ability and pedigree can often go out the window in the World Cup, with teams having to rely on winning spirit to prevail. You'll, no doubt, be delighted with your team for showing that spirit. Well done. Uruguay will prove ruthless, but who will have the last laugh in that game?
I think you've got the message through about Pohjanpalo now... :P Well done on scrapping through in the end against Romania. Everybody raises their game in a World Cup, so it's difficult to get past anyone, really. You can never afford to underestimate a team because magical results do happen. A tough test awaits against Uruguay and with both sides being sent to penalty shootouts in their respective ties in the previous round, it'll be an interesting spectacle.
Further progression into the next round for Finland despite it going to penalties. Aapo is getting the results and thats what matters, however, the challenges are going to get tougher now as seen with Uruguay in the next round. Hopefully the results continue to flow and the unthinkable can actually happen!
Doing well with Finland again. Good luck against the Uruguayans in the next round.

In one of the more underwhelming games in the World Cup Third Round, a fifth minute Antti Huhtamaki strike sent Finland on their way into the Quarter-Finals as Uruguay suffered a 1-0 loss at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Aapo Virtanen stuck to his new World Cup formation of 5-1-2-2 which saw his side coast through the group stages and scrape past Romania in the Second Round and his side reaped the rewards.

The system totally juxtaposes the attacking, free-flowing mentality that saw his Manchester City side score over 100 goals in the Premier League this season as his Finland team have only taken 14 shots out of the four games they have played so far in this tournament.

The game had barely got going before there was an opportunity to utilise Finland’s key tactical proponent - set-pieces - within the first five minutes of the game. This Finland side piles their three big centre-backs into every set-piece they can get in the hope that a ball can find one of their heads.

It was an Oliver Antman corner where the goal stemmed from as the attacking midfielder, although plays as a striker in Virtanen’s Finland system, crossed an inswinging corner into the Uruguay box which was headed away by the captain José Gimenez before Antti Huhtamaki waited patiently for the ball to reach him on the edge of the area, taking one touch onto his favoured right foot to hit the ball into the far-right corner past the helpless Sebastián Paz who had so many bodies in his eyeline that he only saw the ball at the last second.

Although the Finnish national side kept the ball much more than they did against Romania, they failed to create any more chances for the remaining 85 minutes on the clock as they routinely slowed the game down for Uruguay by passing sideways most of the time as well as taking as much time as possible to plan set-pieces.

The frustration for Uruguay was visible throughout the game as they picked up four yellow cards to Finland’s zero, with three coming in the final seven minutes of the game as they tried to hassle the Finnish players into making a mistake.

With the game being the last Third Round fixture of the stage, it has been confirmed that Finland will play one of the hosts - the United States of America - in the Quarter-Finals after already knocking out one of the other hosts in the group stages as Mexico were left with two losses against the Finns and Ecuador.

In the other games played around both Central and North America, Denmark defeated South Korea 2-0 and England defeated Ecuador 2-0. In one of the more highly anticipated games, Spain secured a 1-0 win over Argentina meanwhile it took Brazil to win a penalty shootout to finally beat Portugal. The other two games saw Holland smash Sweden 3-0 and France win 1-0 against Switzerland.

Justice: I would definitely put this win down to winning spirit within our own side. To stay in the lead for such a large portion of the game shows how much mental strength these lads possess.

Scott: I blame myself for thinking that Romania would simply roll over us after looking at their squad, but it showed that they had a similar mentality to us in that they knew they didn't have the quality, but they had the heart. The Uruguay was a tough game both for me as the manager of my team, watching my defence being persistently bombarded and for the neutral viewer as well, so not quite the spectacle we'd hoped.

TheLFCFan: It's fortunate that we had that game in a knockout round and not in the group stage, so at least our penalty shootouts are (hopefully) out of our system now! We surely can't win the World Cup, can we?

SonOfAnarchy: It's looking good, that's for sure! Cheers mate.
Virtanen's tactics are clearly very defensive and about soaking up the pressure, hoping to strike lucky and from there stay solid and compact to prevent the opposition from finding a breakthrough. If executed well, it's a great plan although not one that's particularly exciting to watch. However, I'm sure that's the last of Aapo's worries and the Finnish side can now prepare themselves for a tough tie against the US. They will certainly have the crowd and the atmosphere on their side, could this give them some momentum? We'll see. Best of luck.
A tough game to play, but you out-shithoused the kings of international shithousery. Bravo. USA will prove a tough tactical and physical challenge. They prepare well for games so it might come down to a question of ability. I hope Pohjanpalo has his scoring boots on!

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