Mixu Paatelainen has a unique record as a Finnish pioneer in British football but still described his appointment yesterday as the new Hibernian manager as "a dream come true".
He acknowledged the uphill task he faces as John Collins' successor at a cash-strapped club ailing in eighth place in the SPL. "I know it's a big challenge," he said. But the 40-year former midfielder, who had two spells at Easter Road as a player, added: "Everyone knows of my great affection for this club, and I believe my desire to see teams play exciting, attacking and intelligent football fits well with the club's philosophy. I will bring energy, hard work and leadership to the squad."
Paatelainen, capped 70 times for Finland, first played in Britain with Dundee United in 1987. In Scotland, he also played for Aberdeen, Hibs twice, St Johnstone and St Mirren. He became a Hibs hero with a hat-trick against Hearts in October 2000.
Paatelainen was the first Finn to play in a Wembley cup final, in the League Cup with Bolton in 1995, and the first Finn in the Premier League, with Bolton the same year. He was also the first – and to date only – Finn to win a British divisional title as a manager: the 2006 Scottish third division with Cowdenbeath.
He subsequently left for TPS Turku in his homeland, managing them to an impressive third-place finish last season. His first game as Hibs' manager will be against Inverness in the Scottish Cup tomorrow.
Celtic hope the defender Bobo Balde, 32, will soon complete a move to Bolton, while Japanese midfielder Koki Mizuno was continuing talks in Glasgow last night about joining the club.Reuse content