Ten claims to fame: HJK Helsinki
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
HJK Helsinki are the first Finnish side to play in the UEFA Europa League group stage but, as UEFA.com's Mikael Erävuori reveals, that is not the only thing that makes them special.
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Nickname: Klubi (The Club)
Domestic honours (most recent in brackets)
League title: 27 (2014)
Finnish Cup: 12 (2014)
• HJK were the first club in the Finnish capital to focus solely on football, hence their original name, in Finnish and Swedish, Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi – Helsingfors Fotbollsklubb (literally, Helsinki Football Club). The Swedish version was later dropped from their official title, with the Finnish shortened to the more familiar HJK.
• One of the prime movers in the club's early years was Fredrik Wathén, who became the first Finn to be crowned world champion in any sport when triumphing at the 1901 world speed skating championship. Wathén called the meeting at which HJK were founded and was their first president, though he died in 1914 aged just 36.
Flying the flag
• HJK originally wore plain white shirts but this was switched to the more familiar blue-and-white stripes in 1909 as a gesture towards the colours of the Finnish flag, at a time when Finland was still part of the Russian empire.
• The first Finnish national competition was held in 1908, with HJK landing their first title in 1911, beating ÅIFK 7-1 in the final of what would be – until 1929 – a knockout tournament. They overcame local rivals HIFK by the same score in the 1912 decider.
• While HJK were initially a football-only club, they branched out into other sports and proved successful at ice hockey and ice bandy as well as handball, ice skating and bowling. However, since 1976, they have concentrated just on football.
• Having lifted their first title in 26 years the previous season, HJK made their UEFA competition debut in 1965/66, losing 3-2 at home and 6-0 away to Manchester United FC in the European Champion Clubs' Cup preliminary round. They became Finland's first UEFA Champions League group stage contenders in 1998/99, and their first UEFA Europa League group stage challengers this term.
• In his first full campaign in the senior squad, Markku Peltoniemi scored one of the goals in the home leg against United and proceeded to become one of the most celebrated figures in Finnish football. Though he claimed just one cup and one championship as an HJK player, he became renowned after being appointed HJK's head of delegation in 1980 – the position he still holds. 'Peltsi' was awarded the Captain's Ball – the highest award in Finnish football – for his long service.
• HJK were quick to adopt Chelsea FC's 1970 FA Cup final song Blue Is The Colour as their own anthem. It was translated into Finnish, retitled Hoo-Jii-Koo in reference to the Finnish pronunciation of HJK, and has been played before kick-off at HJK home games since 1973.
• That 1973 season brought Peltoniemi's sole championship as a player, but HJK have secured 16 since, with their 2014 success their sixth in a row; it completed a fourth straight domestic double, HJK having ousted FC Inter Turku in the Finnish Cup final.
• For all their recent dominance, HJK were not always the biggest side in Finland – indeed they were not always the most successful team in Helsinki, with neighbours HIFK crowned champions in 1961. No other capital club has won the main prize since, though, and since 2007 HJK have been the only Helsinki outfit in the top league – though they will have local rivals again in 2015, with HIFK promoted to the Veikkausliiga after a 43-year absence.