Litmanen keeps cards close to his chest on retirement plans
Amidst speculation that this might be his 137th and last appearance in a Finnish shirt, midfielder Jari Litmanen gave little away on Tuesday about his plans for possible retirement from football, either totally or in respect of the international side.
Speaking to the press ahead of tonight's San Marino game, Litmanen was his usual enigmatic self, and anyone hoping to hear the definitive "yes" or "no" came away disappointed.
The player's decision has been complicated a little by the fact that at club level things did not go very well for FC Lahti this season, and they were relegated from the Veikkaus League to the Finnish First Division.
Equally, things have "not gone very well" for the national squad, and the chances of a qualification berth at the end of this European Championships campaign are slim to mathematical.
Also weighing in favour of Litmanen calling it a day is simple fatigue - he is after all going to be 40 next February, and his career dates back to a first international in October 1989.
Litmanen was in his pomp in the mid-1990s, as a member of the great Ajax Amsterdam team that won the European Champions League title in 1994/1995 and was beaten in the final in the following season.
Litmanen was a pivotal figure in Ajax's success, scoring 24 goals in 44 European appearances. In 1995 he was third in the voting for the Ballon d'Or (European Footballer of the Year) accolade.
Litmanen also played for Barcelona and Liverpool, though with less success, and made a brief and emotional return to Ajax between 2002 and 2004.
He is in any event likely to play some part in the squad selected by acting head coach Olli Huttunen for tonight's Euro 2012 fixture, and even if Litmanen were to announce afterwards that he is calling it quits, it seems very unlikely that the Finnish FA would let it go at that.
It is easy to imagine that there would be a friendly international arranged in the spring at which such a loyal servant of the game could be given a stylish send-off - at least more stylish than in front of 10,000 or so freezing spectators at a game against anonymous opponents.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Wrap up warm if you are going to see Finland vs. San Marino (16.11.2010)
Baxter steps aside; Olli Huttunen to serve as head coach for San Marino game next week (10.11.2010)
Jari Litmanen (Wikipedia)
Finland National Football Team (Wikipedia)