Aki Riihilahti

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Aki Riihilahti
Aki Riihilahti.jpg
Personal information
Full name Aki Pasinpoika Riihilahti
Date of birth (1976-09-09) 9 September 1976 (age 37)
Place of birth Helsinki, Finland
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Youth career
1982–1994 HJK Helsinki
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1999 HJK Helsinki 62 (11)
1996 FC Honka (loan) 3 (0)
1999–2001 Vålerenga IF 47 (5)
2001–2006 Crystal Palace 157 (13)
2006–2007 1. FC Kaiserslautern 10 (1)
2007–2009 Djurgårdens IF 12 (0)
2009–2011 HJK Helsinki 40 (6)
Total 301 (33)
National team
1998–2007 Finland 69 (11)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Aki Pasinpoika Riihilahti (born 9 September 1976 in Helsinki) is a retired Finnish footballer. He is known as a hard working, defensive midfielder. He is now working as the CEO of HJK, as well as coach for HJK's reserves, Klubi-04.

Club career[edit]

Riihilahti started his career at HJK where he made his Veikkausliiga debut in 1995. He has won the Finnish championship four times (1997, 2009, 2010 and 2011), the Finnish Cup three times with HJK, and the Finnish League Cup three times, and played a vital part when the first and so far only time Finnish Club team qualified for the UEFA Champions League in the 1998–99 season. After first spell in HJK, Riihilahti then moved to Norway's Vålerenga I.F. for the 1999 season.

After two seasons in Norway, he joined England's Crystal Palace in 2001, eventually becoming a fans' favourite at the club. In Palace's 2004–05 Premier League season he showed he has what it takes to play in one of Europe's top leagues. Riihilahti was so loved by the Crystal Palace faithful that a Finnish flag with the legend 'AKI 15' across the centre was hung behind one of the Selhurst Park goals for the entire Premier League season. However, his next season, back in the Championship, following Palace's relegation, was not so successful because injuries limited his chances. Despite not playing for most of his last season with Palace, Riihilahti has a place in club Hall of Fame as he holds the club record for gaining the most caps for his country whilst at Palace.

After his contract with Palace expired in the summer of 2006, Riihilahti was picked up by 1. FC Kaiserslautern on a one-year deal. In June 2007, Riihilahti signed a two and a half year deal with Stockholm club Djurgårdens IF and on 31 July 2009 returned to Finland to sign with HJK in which he has made a crucial contribution in club's record 5 consecutive championships 2009-2013. On 29 October 2011, Riihilahti celebrated his 100th league match for HJK by scoring once, in the last match of the season, in a 5–2 home win against Haka, and retired after club won a convincing double that season.

Riihilahti was appointed and has done a good turnaround job for HJK's home stadium as the CEO of Sonera Stadium, as well as coach for HJK's reserves, Klubi-04. In December 2013 he was appointed as the CEO of HJK.

International career[edit]

Riihilahti made his debut for the Finnish national team on 5 February 1998 against Cyprus. He has been a regular for Finland for the most of 2000s, and earned 69 caps scoring 11 goals.

Personal[edit]

Riihilahti has also become something of a cult figure because of columns he writes for newspapers, such as The Times and the Finnish Iltalehti.

Honours[edit]

HJK Helsinki[edit]

Crystal Palace[edit]

External links[edit]