Finland had never qualified for a major women's tournament when Michael Käld took charge of the national team in 2001. Four years later they were in the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ semi-finals, and this summer Finland made the last eight on home soil. Käld is now stepping down after 107 games in charge, the last four of which were victories in their opening 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers, and the 55-year-old, who is expected to continue to work with the Football Association of Finland in some capacity, spoke to uefa.com about his reasons for stepping down and his time in charge.
uefa.com: Why have you decided to step down?
Michael Käld: I think after nine years it was time. After EURO 2009™ some of the most experienced players retired and as Finland started to build up a new team I thought it was time for a new coach to be involved in that work. I am very proud of the results we have achieved since I was in charge and I think you have to quit at the top, when you have good memories.
uefa.com: Did you have a vision for what you wanted to achieve in charge and has it been realised?
Käld: Of course we had a vision after 2005 that we could do even better. We believed in it and worked very hard to get good results at home. We are satisfied with the result but we worked for three years for EURO 2009™, I used almost 40 players, and that's the most important thing for Finnish women's football. A lot of players had the chance to wear the national shirt and see what work it takes to play at the top level. At EURO 2009™ we attracted a lot of people, it was a family party. Everybody enjoyed the games and it was fantastic to see young boys and girls in the national shirt with their parents. And that's important for the future.
uefa.com: What legacy have you left?
Käld: World Cup qualification has started well with four wins. We have taken a lot of steps and now Finland are able to win games we should win. In [2003 World Cup qualifying] when we played teams not as highly ranked we couldn't win the games. Now we have reached a new level and these games are not any problem any more, that shows that we have taken a few steps.
uefa.com: Did you do anything differently as a coach when you took over to spark the improvement?
Käld: My style of coaching is that I always listen to my players and we talked through issues together. I make the final decision but they are clever people and I want to listen to them. Maybe that style was new in Finnish women's football. I also said to my players that you just have to trust yourself. You can make mistakes and learn from them. The players have more confidence, they trust themselves and I think that has been one of the reasons we have reached this level.
uefa.com: What is the next step for women's football in Finland?
Käld: The next step in club football in Finland is we get more good coaches at youth level. We have to work on it so we can develop players better than we do today. It's all about money, of course, but the number of girls players are increasing all the time and we have to take good care of them.
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