Tim Sparv will be the Finland captain at Euro 2020, which begins in Rome on June 11.
Finland (opens in new tab) will be making their debut at an international tournament this summer, having never before participated at a World Cup or European Championship.
The Eagle-Owls have benefited from UEFA’s decision to expand the Euros from 16 to 24 teams.
Finland finished second in their qualifying group, accumulating 18 points from a possible 30.
They never threatened Italy (opens in new tab) for top spot, but finishing above Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia and Liechtenstein was a fine achievement.
Finland will hope to do more than just make up the numbers at Euro 2020 (opens in new tab), although they are outsiders to reach the last 16.
They will conclude the group phase against Belgium (opens in new tab), one of the favourites to win Euro 2020, on June 21.
Sparv’s leadership qualities will be integral to Finland’s chances of upsetting the odds and qualifying for the knockout phase.
The experienced midfielder, who spent four years on Southampton (opens in new tab)’s books as a youngster, plays his club football in Greece with AEL.
His contract with the Larissa-based side expires on June 30, but for now Sparv is fully focused on leading his country at Euro 2020.
The 34-year-old might never have expected this day to come, having been involved in multiple failed qualification campaigns.
He made his debut for his country in 2009 having previously represented Finland at Under-15, Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 level.
Sparv has won 79 senior caps at the time of writing, but he remains some way behind Jari Litmanen (137) as Finland’s all-time record appearance-maker.
Sparv won three league titles during his six years with Danish side Midtjylland, and was named Finnish Footballer of the Year in 2015.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1