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Euro 2020 – who is Finland’s manager? Everything you need to know about Markku Kanerva

Markku Kanerva
(Image credit: PA)

Markku Kanerva will lead Finland at Euro 2020, with the nation excited for its first appearance at a major international tournament.

Finland qualified by finishing second in their group with 18 points from 10 games, a long way behind runaway winner Italy.

It was by far the biggest achievement of Kanerva’s managerial career, having previously led the Under-21s and served as assistant to Mixu Paatelainen.

Kanerva, who spent the majority of his playing days in his homeland, also won 59 caps during his nine years as part of the national team squad.

The defender enjoyed three spells at HJK Helsinki and started coaching at the club in 2001, assisting Jyrki Heliskoski and Keith Armstrong.

Prior to taking the Finland job, his only experience as a manager in senior football came during a brief stint at FC Viikingit.

Kanerva did an impressive job with the Under-21s, guiding them to the European Championship for the first, and so far only, time in their history in 2009.

Although they finished bottom of a tough group, containing England, Germany and Spain, it gave invaluable experience of tournament football to several players who will be heavily involved this summer, most notably captain Tim Sparv and top scorer Teemu Pukki.

Pukki enjoyed another prolific season at Norwich City, as they won the Championship title and made an immediate return to the Premier League.

His total of 30 goals for the national team, in 90 appearances, is just two short of the legendary Jari Litmanen’s all-time record.

Finland have been drawn in Group B alongside Denmark, Belgium and Russia and head into the tournament as a surprise package and one of the biggest underdogs.