Teemu Tainio

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Teemu Tainio
TeemuTainio (cropped).jpg
Tainio playing for the New York Red Bulls in 2011
Personal information
Date of birth (1979-11-27) 27 November 1979 (age 38)
Place of birth Tornio, Finland
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Defensive Midfielder
Youth career
1994–1995 TP-47
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1997 FC Haka 46 (14)
1997–2005 Auxerre 150 (14)
2005–2008 Tottenham Hotspur 61 (3)
2008–2010 Sunderland 21 (0)
2009–2010Birmingham City (loan) 6 (0)
2010–2011 Ajax 2 (0)
2011–2012 New York Red Bulls 42 (0)
2013−2014 HJK Helsinki 36 (3)
Total 364 (34)
National team
1998–2014 Finland 64 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 28 October 2015
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 October 2014

Teemu Tainio (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈteːmu ˈtɑinio]; born 27 November 1979) is a Finnish former footballer. Born in Tornio, he began his career with his local club, TP-47, before moving to FC Haka in 1996. A year later, he moved to France to play for Auxerre. After eight years there, he joined English club Tottenham Hotspur, where he spent three years before joining Sunderland. After a loan spell with Birmingham City during the 2009–10 season, he moved to Dutch club Ajax, before joining the New York Red Bulls in 2011. After two seasons in the United States, he returned to Finland to finish his career with HJK.

He mostly played in a variety of midfield positions during his career, and also at right-back under Juande Ramos at Tottenham. He was known for his tough tackling style, often referred to as a young David White.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Tainio was promoted to the first team of his home-town club TP-47 in Kakkonen, Finland's third tier, at the age of fourteen. He was signed by Veikkausliiga club FC Haka for the 1996 season. Following a trial at Manchester United in March 1997, Tainio joined French club AJ Auxerre in 1997, and spent eight years at the club. He won the Coupe de France with Auxerre twice, and also gained UEFA Champions League experience. While with Auxerre, Tainio appeared in 204 official matches and scored 19 goals.[1]

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

With Tainio's contract with Auxerre due to expire in 2005, he became available on a free transfer. In January 2005, it was announced that he would move to Tottenham Hotspur on a seven-year deal in the summer of 2005. He became a regular for Spurs in his first season, playing in various midfield positions.

He scored his first goal for his new club in December 2005 against Newcastle United during a Premiership match at White Hart Lane.[2] Tainio was one of ten Spurs squad members struck down by a virus on the evening of 6 May 2006 before their crucial final game of the season against West Ham.[3] He nevertheless played in the match, which Spurs lost, missing out on a place in the Champions League.

He scored his second Spurs goal on 9 December 2006, the third goal in the 5–1 home win against Charlton Athletic.[4] His third goal for the club was an equaliser against West Ham to make the score 2–2 on 4 March 2007. Spurs went on to win the game 4–3.[5]

Tainio won the 2008 League Cup when Tottenham took a 2–1 extra-time win over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in the final played on 24 February 2008. He came on as a substitute in the 75th minute when the score was 1–1. He then was booked with five more minutes left in the game for time wasting on a throw in.[6]


He joined Sunderland on the 23 July 2008 for an undisclosed fee. He became their first summer signing and the first Finnish player ever for Sunderland.[7][8] He scored his first goal for Sunderland in a second round League Cup game at Norwich on 24 August 2009.[9] He left Sunderland on 31 August 2010, when the club terminated his contract by mutual consent.

Birmingham City (loan)[edit]

Tainio joined Birmingham City on 1 September 2009, on loan for the remainder of the 2009–10 season.[10] Having recovered from a calf injury sustained on international duty,[11] he made his debut for the club on 13 September in a 1–0 home defeat in the Birmingham derby against Aston Villa, in which he produced a good performance in a less-familiar role at right-back.[12]


Tainio signed a one-year contract on the very same day after he was released by Sunderland. At Ajax, he rejoined his former Tottenham coach, Martin Jol.[13] He made his Ajax debut on 11 September 2010, playing the last five minutes as a substitute for Demy de Zeeuw in a 2-0 victory over Willem II. He also made appearance in the 2010-11 Champions League, playing the last 21 minutes against Real Madrid in the 2-0 away loss match in the group stage.[14] After making only 5 official appearances while with Ajax, Tainio accepted an offer from Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls.[15]

New York Red Bulls[edit]

Tainio joined New York Red Bulls during their pre-season training for the 2011 Major League Soccer season. He became the first Finn to sign for the team formerly known as the New York/New Jersey Metrostars when the club officially signed him on 9 March 2011.[16] He made his official debut for New York on 19 March 2011, in the Red Bulls' 2011 MLS season opener, a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC, assisting on Juan Agudelo's game-winning goal. He has quickly become a fan favorite early in the season with multiple assists and good play to his name.[17] On November 15, 2012, Tainio, along with teammates Jan Gunnar Solli, Bill Gaudette, and Jose Angulo were all denied contract extensions, thus ending their tenure at New York.

HJK Helsinki[edit]

On 2 January 2013, it was announced that the 33-year-old Tainio had signed a two-year contract with the reigning Finnish champions, HJK Helsinki.[18] On 19 June 2013, he scored his first goal for HJK, in a 4−2 away win over MYPA. This was his first goal since 24 August 2009. On 14 February 2015, Tainio announced his retirement as a player.

International career[edit]

Tainio with Finland

Tainio made his debut for the Finnish national team on 5 February 1998 against Cyprus, and was a regular for the team through most of the 2000s. After signing with New York Red Bulls in 2011, Tainio announced that he might retire at the international level, citing the long distance flights and time difference between the States and Finland.[19] After a two-year hiatus, Tainio made his comeback to the international team, immediately after his contract with the Red Bulls expired.

International goals[edit]

Finland's score first.

# Date Location Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 1 September 2001 Tirana, Albania  Albania 2–0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
2. 6 September 2003 Baku, Azerbaijan  Azerbaijan 2-1 Win UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
3. 11 October 2003 Tampere, Finland  Canada 3-2 Win Friendly
4. 16 November 2003 Houston, USA  Honduras 2-1 Win Friendly
5. 13 October 2004 Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 1-3 Loss 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
6. 22 August 2007 Tampere, Finland  Kazakhstan 2-1 Win UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying


As of 14 February 2015[20]
Finland national team
Year Apps Goals
1998 3 0
1999 1 0
2000 3 0
2001 4 1
2002 6 0
2003 6 3
2004 2 1
2005 8 0
2006 2 0
2007 6 1
2008 5 0
2009 4 0
2010 2 0
2011 0 0
2012 0 0
2013 9 0
2014 3 0
Total 64 6



FC Haka
Tottenham Hotspur


  1. ^ Profile at Auxerre's histoaja.free.fr Tainio with Auxerre Archived 19 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.(in French)
  2. ^ "Tottenham 2–0 Newcastle". BBC. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "Tests clear hotel in Spurs food poisoning incident". RTÉ News. 16 May 2006. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. 
  4. ^ Lyon, Sam (9 December 2006). "Tottenham 5–1 Charlton". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  5. ^ Fletcher, Paul (4 March 2007). "West Ham 3–4 Tottenham". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  6. ^ Helsingin Sanomat – International Edition – Sport
  7. ^ Martin Walker (2008-07-22). "Sunderland complete Tainio signing". SAFC.com. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  8. ^ www.safc.com (2008-07-22). "Tainio Completes Sunderland Move". Premierleague.com. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  9. ^ "Norwich 1 – 4 Sunderland". BBC. 24 August 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "It's Teemu Time". Birmingham City F.C. 1 September 2009. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Tattum, Colin (9 September 2009). "Birmingham City midfielder Teemu Tainio's calf injury 'not serious'". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Tattum, Colin (14 September 2009). "Birmingham City v Aston Villa: Colin Tattum's Blues player ratings and match stats". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  13. ^ Ajax contracteert Teemu Tainio Archived 3 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (in Dutch)
  14. ^ Real Madrid - Ajax 2-0 (in English)
  15. ^ "MLS Ticker: FC Dallas lands Castillo, Portland signs Perlaza and Red Bulls add Tainio". 7 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "Tainio signs with New York". 
  17. ^ Tainio's assist helps NY in victory Archived 22 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Teme Tainio Klubin keskikentälle (in Finnish)
  19. ^ (in Finnish) Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Teemu Tainio". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. 

External links[edit]