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Dundee United winger Ilmari Niskanen loving life in Scotland

Dundee United v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Tannadice Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Finland winger Ilmari Niskanen has declared himself a massive fan of Scottish football and its “flying tackles” after his first eight games for Dundee United.

The 24-year-old arrived at Tannadice in August following a protracted move from Ingolstadt in Germany’s Bundesliga 2 and is relishing his new challenge.

The wide player has chipped in with a winner against Ross County and the United fans have already taken him to their heart.

Niskanen is even enjoying the attention from the cinch Premiership’s full-backs as he throws himself into Scotland’s all-action style.

Speaking ahead of United’s trip to face Hearts on Saturday, he said: “I absolutely love the Scottish way of football. The intensity is great and the physicality is great.

“There are always flying tackles and there is just a brilliant feeling that you are always in a game.

“And of course the atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and the passion from the fans is something I haven’t experienced before. I love it.”

Not all wingers will appreciate a flying tackle but Niskanen added: “I do, definitely. That’s part of football. You feel you are giving all in and it gives a great feeling on the pitch.

“It has been absolutely brilliant so far, I have enjoyed every second.

“Personally the first two games were a little bit difficult but after that I have been able to find my form.

“I know there is still room for improvement but I am definitely on the right track and the support is magnificent.

“I feel great on and off the pitch. I am really enjoying life here and playing with great team-mates and for a great club.

“I am feeling really confident and physically also feeling much better than I did for the first two or three games. In my playing style, I want to run as much as possible and keep the intensity high.”

Niskanen’s first impressions have been helped by United’s impressive start to the campaign.

The Finn only suffered his first defeat last weekend when he came on at half-time in a 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone.

Both United and Hearts have the chance to go second in the table on Saturday.

“Previous seasons maybe already now Rangers and Celtic have been a bit more ahead but it’s great that everything is open,” Niskanen said.

“Of course we want to finish as high as possible and so far the start has been good.”

Niskanen is also looking to upset the odds in international football having been called up for the finale to Finland’s World Cup qualifying group with games against Bosnia and Herzegovina and France this month.

“It is always an absolute honour to get a call-up and to put a Finnish shirt on is absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“The stakes are really high. If we manage to beat Bosnia then everything is possible that we can finish second or even first in the group.”