Mikael Forssell

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Matthew Jones, the former Leeds United and Wales player asked the former Birmingham City striker, Mikael Forssell, about how his Finnish footballing family offers support.

Matt Jones: Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start playing football?

Mikael Forssell: My dad used to be a football player and has got a couple of caps for Finland. He took me out to the pitch when I was about four or five-years-old. My sister has 70 caps for Finland and she's seven years older than me so it was kind of natural that I got into football as well. I have to thank my dad for all of this. He got me into the passion of football.

MJ: Naturally you were gifted but you still needed to have that determination to make it at the top level?

MF: Coming from Finland it wasn't the easiest thing to make it in football because we didn't have too many great footballers abroad. It's always a challenge and obviously the conditions in Finland aren't the best as we've got a long, long winter.

You have to have determination and the belief that you can do it, and I definitely had it. I knew it was only through hard work you could pull through and succeed and obviously one part of that is you have to have dreams and believe you can do it.

MJ: How did you adjust and master the English language? Did you learn that back in Finland?

MF: It's obligatory in school that you have to learn English, so I had a good base already before I came here. It was always a dream for me to play abroad and to come to England was great. I signed for Chelsea when I was 17-years-old and I knew that the proper work would start.


Mikael Forssell

15 March 1981

Steinfurt, Germany


Hannover 96

Previous Clubs:
HJK Helsinki, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Birmingham City



MJ: You moved to Chelsea and lived in London and then you moved to Birmingham. It's the same language but a different accent, how do you cope with that?

MF: I think there have always been a lot of foreigners at Chelsea so you have to listen to different accents from different countries! I think you learn from this to get along with different kinds of people and different cultures.

For me it was never a problem. You always have the same language which is football. When I moved to England at 17 my mum came with me, so she lived with me for a year so I had a base there. My family is close anyway, my dad and sister travelled here from Finland all the time so that was a big help for me.

MJ: What sort of sacrifices do players and their families have to make to be successful as a sportsperson?

MF: I think it helps a lot when your family is very involved. For me my dad has been my best trainer. He's been the closest to me in football. He knows me inside out and he knows what's good for me.

He's showed me how to work and train my whole life basically so I think it helps. I'm very privileged in that sense that I've got a father and mum and sister who are very close as well. I have to thank them for that.

MJ: You're obviously a player with a lot of passion and love for the game. Do you have certain days when you don't feel like training?

MF: No. Never, ever, ever. I don't think I've ever been bored with football. Every day I wake up I'm happy because I can do the thing that I love the most.

Sometimes obviously you do running and stuff that you don't really like and you always want to get onto the ball, but you know that after the running you've always got the ball work. I love football!

MJ: What do you like most about your training?

MF: I like scoring goals, especially if there's a trick involved. Scoring a goal is the best thing ever, that's why I play football basically.

MJ: Do you think, as your career goes on, it's harder to motivate yourself?

MF: Hopefully not, but obviously people talk about lost motivation when you get older and maybe it's a natural process. At the moment I don't want to know about it because I'm so motivated. I want to keep going and score goals!

MJ: We talk about attitude, ability, skill and so on in the game, but nutrition plays a big part too?

MF: It does definitely. I think it's become much more about this during the past few years. As a sportsman you have to definitely have that side of the work covered and without the proper nutrition you can't perform in the maximum way.

MJ: Finally, what advice would you give to any youngster wanting to be a sportsperson and to be as successful as you?

MF: You should always have dreams. When you've got dreams and you've got passion, the hard work comes easily after that.

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