Anssi Jaakkola - Fact File

Many people were skeptical about Ajax Cape Town`s decision to sign goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola, but the Finnish goalkeeper has silenced many critics with his magnificent displays between the poles for the Urban Warriors. In Sabie Chili's interview, he opens up about his move to Ajax and also reveals his desire to play for Finland again.

Personal Information
Full names: Anssi Jaakkola
Date of birth: 13 March 1987
Place of birth: Kemi, Finland

Nickname: Dolph
Jersey no: 32

Club: Ajax Cape Town
Previous Teams: TP-47(Finland), Siena (Italy), Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) and Kilmarnock (Scotland)
Honours: 11 Finland U21 caps, 1 Finland senior national team cap

Anssi, how did you end up playing for the Urban Warriors?
It all started with a chat between my national team coach and former Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral, when they were both watching the UEFA U21 Championship last summer. Muhsin told my national team coach that he was on the lookout for a goalkeeper, and my national team coach recommended me. I was then invited to come to Cape Town for trials and after a week of training, I signed for Ajax and as they say, the rest is history.

How are you finding your stay at the Urban Warriors?
To be honest, I’m enjoying my stay at Ajax. It was a bit of a struggle at first to get to know Cape Town, because, as you know, I`ve never been to South Africa before, but I`m slowly getting used to this city. I`m also getting used to my new teammates and the environment here at Urban Warriors. I`m getting some game time now, so all I can say is that my future looks bright here at Ajax.

Prior to joining Ajax, you played for Kilmarnock in the Scottish League. Tell us about your stay in Scotland?
My stay at Kilmarnock was good, even though it ended on a sour note when they decided to release me after I gave my all for the club. I don`t know what happened there really because I was playing regularly the season before last, but last season I found myself spending more time on the bench and I was eventually released from my contract. It was a sad ending to a good life in Kilmarnock, a place that gave me a beautiful wife.

Footballers often move from leagues like the Scottish Premier League to bigger leagues like the English Premiership and Spain`s La Liga. Why did you choose to come down to South Africa to play in the PSL?
There were teams from the English Championship and League One, Holland, Italy and Finland that were interested in me but they couldn`t guarantee me game time, so I decided to go to a club where I would be the number one. Ajax promised me that so I joined them.

But, Dolph, Ajax had Brandon Petersen as their number one at the beginning of the season and you only took over from him when he got injured.
What happened is that, when I joined Ajax, I was not match fit due to my lack of game time at Kilmarnock, so Muhsin explained to me that he would give the number one jersey to Brandon. I had no issues with that. Brandon did well before he got injured, so it made sense for Muhsin to continue using him as the number one ahead of me. I knew that my chance would come and I would take over and when he got injured, I grabbed the opportunity.

And you managed to keep four clean sheets in your first four matches for Ajax.
Look, a goalkeeper is only as good his defence, so credit must go to the likes of Dominic Isaacs, Thulani Hlatshwayo and others at the back for protecting me from the strikers. I feel comfortable playing behind these guys.

Since making your debut for Finland against Sweden back in 2011, you have somehow disappeared from the national team setup.
I think my lack of game time at Kilmarnock contributed to me losing my position in the national team. My national team coach only picks players who are active at their clubs, so I decided to join a club where I can play regularly, so that I could increase my chances of a call-up.

So the fact that you conceded five goals in that match against Sweden didn`t play any part in your failure to get more call-ups.
I hope not. That was my worst game ever since I turned professional as a goalkeeper and it was the worst debut ever. But I hope that I will be given another chance in the future to represent my country.

Thank you for your time.