When Roni Porokara returned to FC Honka Espoo after five years away from Finland in 2013, it did not go well. A season on, that has all changed.
Porokara, at 30 one of the few experienced players in a young Honka squad, is the unlikely current top scorer in the Finnish First Division with six goals in 11 games. It is just another breakthrough for someone with a reputation as a late bloomer.
Winger Porokara first arrived at Honka in 2005 from the club where he made his league bow, FC Hämeenlinna. A return of 27 goals in the next three seasons was respectable and earned him a senior international debut, albeit playing a minute of a May 2006 friendly with Sweden and not being picked again for nearly two years.
It was to Sweden he departed in 2008 with Örebro SK, and it was the following year, aged 26, that he began to become an international regular. He then joined KFC Germinal Beerschot in Belgium but struggled to become a starter and was on his way in 2012 to FC Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Israel.
At the end of that year Porokara, who had also suffered injury problems, was heading home, and there was only one side he had eyes for. "When I came back, Honka was the obvious choice," he said. "They are an important club to me."
However, his first term back was not a success, the wide man managing just three goals in 27 appearances. Porokara has already doubled that tally in 2014.
"My movement on the pitch is much sharper than last season and that is mainly due to having a pre-season without any trouble," Porokara told UEFA.com. "Last season I did not join the squad until late March. Before that it was a bit hit and miss. I trained on my own and every now and then with the team too. I have also done a lot of additional workouts."
Another change is his position on the pitch. Former Finland forward Shefki Kuqi took charge of Honka in February and has transferred Porokara from the wing to become a lone striker. "I have scored goals because I play closer to the goal," he explained. "In addition, the kind of football we play now – playing the ball behind the defence – seems to suit me."
Though his club form has returned, Porokara has yet feature in Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen's plans, his 23rd and most recent cap coming in Thailand in January 2013. But neither that, nor another move outside Finland, are on Porokara's mind.
"I have not thought about a transfer abroad" he said. "Besides it does not depend solely on what I want. If the goals keep flowing, maybe someone will become interested. Should that happen, it would need some reconsidering.
"I have not given much thought to returning to the national team either. I am sure Mixu still has my phone number. I reckon he will make a call if he wants me."
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