Here are some of my memories from the events that I have watched at the stadium.
Finland’s Worst Sports Moment Ever
In 1997 Finland needed a win against Hungary in order to have a very good chance to qualify for the first time in history to football’s World Cup. I’ve never been outdoors in such a terrible rain but nobody cared as Finland had a 1-0 lead when 90 minutes was played. Hungary gave a poor corner and FIVE Finnish players made unsuccessful tries to clear the ball. Hungarians really didn’t do anything but still the ball found its way into our goal. One of the best moments of Finnish football turned into anger and disappointment in the ugliest possible way. Readers of Helsingin Sanomat newspaper voted that pinball goal as the worst sports moment of all times.
HJK Plays Excellent Champions League Football
I went to see HJK Helsinki‘s champions league qualifier against a French side Metz in 1998. Normally a Finnish club wouldn’t have a chance against a good team from a country that has just won the World Cup. But HJK did the impossible and qualified. When the champions league hymn was played before a match against a Portugese side Benfica, I couldn’t believe I was in Helsinki. It was totally unreal when HJK won the game! I’m still angry at myself for not going to see the 0-0 match against Kaiserslautern. HJK had the chances to win that one as well. Unfortunately in the last home match against PSV Eindhoven I witnessed a hat trick by a promising young striker called Ruud van Nistelrooy.
One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen was when Haile Gebreselassie made a new world record in 5000 meters. A normal young fit person could have followed him only for a few meters (I’m not kidding!) and he ran for 5 kilometers! It looks a lot slower on tv.
There was also once a giant guy who from a distance seemed to be too clumsy for his sport. We made jokes about that with my friend. When it was his turn, a name appeared on the screen – Sergei Bubka. The pole vaulter is one of the best athletes of all times.
Unfortunately in many events music seems to be more important than the actual event. The louder the better. Once in an athletics competition people from the audience had to move loudspeakers because it was impossible to sit on their seats because of the noise. I sat several rows from them and my ears were also hurting.