[Podcast] In Conversation with… Tinni Korpela

In this episode, Keke and Mark W are joined by another Helamrit star and yet another Finnish goalkeeper! Tinja-Riikka Korpela who is a legend of the women’s game; a serial winner who won two Bundesliga titles and three Finnish championships. As well as making 90+ appearances for the Helmarit – the women’s Finland national team – and playing a large part in getting the Helmarit into Euro 2022.


Download an MP3 of In Conversation with… Robert Taylor



Join Mark (@explorefinland),  Mark (@FCSuomi),  Keke (@kekemyllari) and Rich (@EscapeToSuomi) for regular episodes, where 4 old blokes sit and talk about football in Finland. In English.

The show is now recorded on Zoom & published on PodBean. Follow the Finnish Football Show on PodBean for announcements of future episodes and to join any future live shows.

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SHOW NOTES & LINKS

Keke’s Questions (Listen or watch the show to hear Tinni’s answers)

Qualifying for Euro 2022

  • If we can start by saying a big Congratulations to you for the qualification that was achieved back in February! The 2022 tournament will be your hat trick of Euros following your appearances at Euro 2009 and Euro 2013, how does it feel to have qualified for this latest tournament after missing out on the 2017 championships? 
  • As I said in the introduction you played a massive part in qualification conceding only 2 goals throughout the whole campaign. Obviously it’s a team game but as a Goalkeeper you must be immensely proud of the stats. Six clean sheets from 8 games is quite something and the only goals you did concede were a penalty and an own goal! How did you feel about your own performances across the qualifying campaign? 
  • The journey to Euro 2022 started with the winning double header against Albania and then another big win over Cyprus. A few months ago we spoke to another member of your Helmarit Goalkeepers Union, Paula Myllyoja and she told us that she personally was quietly confident of qualification before a ball was kicked, can you say the same or did your confidence grow after these initial wins? 
  • A decent point away to Portugal followed in a game in which Linda Sallstrom scored a 90th minute equaliser. We’ve mentioned before that this wasn’t to be the last late goal scored by Finland in this campaign and the mentality of the team to keep on pushing right until the final whistle is evident to see. Is this mentality to dig deep something that you guys have worked on or does it come naturally to players like you at the top of their game? 
  • After the Portugal away game we had to wait the best part of a year to resume the campaign and a 2 crucial wins over Scotland came to putting us within touching distance of the tournament, the away game in particular sticks in the memory with another late goal coming as Amanda Rantanen scored in spectacular fashion, I think it’s fair to say that the Scotland ‘keeper would have felt pretty bad after her indecision and then her slip allowed Amanda the time she needed to get her shot away and then the way that the ball made it into the back of the net was just crazy! What was your overriding emotion as you watched that from the other end of the pitch and as a goalie yourself can you have any sympathy for your counterpart? 
  • Another resilient and aggressive defensive performance came in the Portugal home game and another late goal from Linda Sallstrom cemented your place in Euro 2022. The scenes at the end of that game were absolutely amazing to see. The whole squad and staff pretty much ran on to the pitch as Linda’s lob shot hit the back of the net and the celebrations on the pitch at the final whistle were great. Can you try to sum up your feelings from that evening knowing that you guys had qualified with a game to spare. 
  • Despite your place at Euro 2022 being already secured, the way in which the team put Cyprus to the sword in the final group game shows your professionalism and relentlessness. Was there ever a chance of you guys taking it easy or taking your foot off the gas in this final game or is that something that yourselves as players and the staff would not allow?

Club Career

  • If we can talk a bit more about you now Tinni. You were born in Oulu in the eighties,  fans now are obviously aware of AC Oulu in Veikkausliiga but this club grew out of the merger of a few clubs one of which was Oulun Luistinseura which is where you started playing but can you tell us  when and how  your passion for football began?
  • In 2004 aged just 18 you moved to Turku and started playing with Sporting Club Raisio. Was your move south purely for football reasons or did you move to study and then join a local club? 
  • I believe that Raisio folded because of financial problems and by 2006 you were in Espoo having signed with FC Honka. You achieved a hat trick of Naisten Liiga titles during your time in Espoo. What can you tell us about this time in your career and were you already thinking about moving abroad to play football at this time?
  • A move abroad certainly did come when you signed with Norwegian club Kolbotn for the 2010 season. I think I am correct in saying that you achieved 2 consecutive 3rd place Toppserien finishes with the club. Was the move to the Norwegian league a noticeable step up for you after your years in Finland? 
  • Your performances in Oppegord had been noticed by LSK Kvinner and you moved over to Lillestrom to join the club in 2012. A Norwegian Toppeseiren title followed with you conceding just 17 league goals across a 22 game season. Did you feel you had developed as a goalkeeper from your time in Norway and how did it feel to add a Norwegian title to those you had collected in Finland? 
  • A move to Sweden came in 2013 when you joined previous DamAllsvenskan champions Tyreso FF. The club were a major player in the women’s game at this time and featured in the women’s UEFA Champions League with you yourself being present on the bench for the 2014 final which saw Tyreso narrowly miss out losing to germans Wolfsburg 4-3. First of all was it an easy decision to move to Sweden and did you feel that the DamAllsvenskan was a step up in terms of the quality of the league and secondly when did you start to hear noises about the financial problems that eventually engulfed the club forcing them to withdraw from competition and subsequently making yourself and your team mates free agents? 
  • The disappointment of the situation in Tyreso did not hold you back and in 2014 you signed for Bayen Muncih in Germany. It must have been an amazing feeling joining one of the power house clubs of the European game. For those who watch the mens game Bayern Munich is obviously a household name and a club of some pedigree, I also read that they have been at the forefront of the womens game in Germany even before the DfB officially recognised womens football. How was the womens team when you joined in 2014? And how was the standard in the Frauen Bundesliga  compared to the leagues in the Nordic countries? 
  • You initially signed a 2 year deal in Munich and went on to become a Frauden Bundesliga winner twice over, you signed an  extension for a further 2 years which would have taken you up to 2018 but after playing over 50  games for Die Bayern you left Germany to return to Norway. Can you tell us how this move came about? 
  • Your return to Norway was with Vålerenga. The Oslo club had finished the previous season 7th in the league but in your first year you helped the club improve on this by one place and a quarter final in the cup was also achieved. In your second season you added a league runners up silver medal and a cup runners up medal to your trophy cabinet. I think it is fair to say that despite these achievements you may not have been playing as regularly as you would have liked. Was this simply down to squad rotation from the coach at the time and how do you reflect on your time in Oslo?

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Playing in the Women’s Super League in the UK

  • Your European tour continued when in 2019 you signed for Everton in the English Women’s Super League. Was it an easy decision to move to England and did you need to adapt your game at all to suit the English style of play? 
  • You have had some fantastic games for Everton but one that must stick out as special for you is the 1-0 win over city rivals Liverpool in the first ever WSL merseyside derby to be played at Anfield. You pulled off some amazing saves in that game, can you tell us how it felt to be playing in a packed Anfield, one of the worlds most famous old stadiums in one of the worlds most famous derby games and to come away with the win?
  • I think you made 11 appearances in your first season and the Toffees finished in the top six. The next season you were sharing the goal keeping duties with Sandy MacIver, how was the rivalry between you two and did you push each other to become better keepers each day on the training pitch?
  • The goalkeepers union is an interesting dynamic, as I said we have previously spoken to Paula Myllyoja about how you guys and Anna Tamminen get along and push each other in Helmarit. How do you see the relationship between you 3 keepers, again is it one of rivalry or support or how does that differ to the dynamic at club level compared to with your international team mates?
  • You are now at Tottenham Hotspur here in England, are you pleased to have stayed in the WSL after your seasons with Everton and are you happy to be based here ahead of Euro 2022 that will be played here in England?
  • Were there any effects of Brexit on you transfers?
  • Spurs are sitting second in the league level on points with great rivals Arsenal with 4 wins from 4 so it is an exciting time to be at the club. You made your debut on the opening day of the season against Birmingham at the Spurs Stadium, how special was this for you and how was it to play in front of the fans in that super modern stadium? 
  • How integrated are the mens and women’s teams at Spurs?
  • You play the majority of your home games at The Hive in Barnet and as you know I was there last weekend for your game against Reading. I arrived nice and early with my kids and it was great to watch you warming up with Rebecca Spencer. On a personal note I’d like to say a big thank you for how you took the time to speak to my kids after the game. They were a little bit star struck to be speaking to you as they know how much of a legend you are and if i am completely honest I was starstruck too! I hope my mumblings in broken finnish weren’t too hard for you to understand! 
  • Are you pushing Spencer in training and hoping to take the number 1 jersey from her any time soon? 
  • It was a pretty decent crowd at the Reading game and I would urge any of our listeners who are able to get themselves along to a WSL game or a Kansallinenliiga game if in Finland to support the continued growth of the women’s game.

Playing for the Helmarit

  • You have been a regular for Helmarit since you made your debut back in 2007 and pretty much first choice since 2009 when Finland hosted the womens Euro Championships. Firstly can you describe how it feels to play for your country and secondly how fondly do you look back on the 2009 Euros and the Quarter Final place that you guys achieved?
  • I think the strength of the current Helmarit team is there for all to see both physically and mentally and that is something that you guys should take immense credit for because your hard work has allowed lots of young girls to dream about what can be achieved. 
  • Talking about dreams Tinni when you were kicking a ball around in Oulu did you ever dream that you would be walking along the red carpet with your partner Emilia at the presidential palace for the independence day party? How was that experience back in 2015? 
  • And so what are your dreams for Helmarit in the future? You kicked off your World Cup Qualifying campaign with a win over Slovakia in a game which you guys looked really strong.  How do you feel about your chances of Qualification from a group that also contains Ireland, Georgia and old enemy Sweden?

Tinni’s impact in wider Finnish society

  • You were at the forefront of the quest for equal pay for Finnish international players and you achieved this in 2019 when Palloliitto announced that the Helmarit players would be paid the same as the Huuhkajat for representing Finland. How important was this for you in ensuring that men and women are treated as equals in football and in society?
  • Furthermore the Palloliitto rebranded the Naistenliiga to be called Kansallienliiga thus removing the gender based prefix for the league. Was this as an important step in your opinion?
  • As well as your achievements on the pitch I want to say congratulations to you on your election to the board of the Football Players Association of Finland. What does your role on the board entail and is this another way for you to ensure that women and girls are not underrepresented when we are talking about football in Finland?

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