Teemu Tainio wins League Cup winner's medal
Teemu Tainio became only the second Finnish footballer to hold aloft the English League Cup trophy (nowadays known as the Carling Cup) following Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 extra-time win over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday
Midfielder Tainio came on as a substitute in the 75th minute when the score was 1-1.
He was booked for time-wasting late in the second half of extra time, as Tottenham attempted to run down the clock after Jonathan Woodgate had given them a 2-1 advantage in the 93rd minute.
Tainio, 28, joined Tottenham from Auxerre in the summer of 2005, and has made 77 appearances for the club, scoring three Premiership goals.
Previously three other Finns have taken part in the English League Cup final - Sami Hyypiä of Liverpool on three occasions (2001, 2003, 2005), Jussi Jääskeläinen (Bolton, 2004), and Mika-Matti Paatelainen (Bolton, 1995).
Hyypiä captained Liverpool to victory in 2001 and was also in the starting line-up for the club’s win in 2003, and now he is joined by his Finland team-mate Tainio.
At the time of Liverpool’s victory in 2001, Jari Litmanen was also on the Liverpool roster, but was unable to take part in any of the three finals the club won that spring, owing to a fractured arm sustained in a World Cup qualifier against England.
There has been much debate about the value of the League Cup as a competition - it definitely comes in third behind the Premier League title and winning the FA Cup, and some clubs have been accused of using cup-ties as a means of trying out their reserve squads.
Tainio was nevertheless untroubled by the discussion, as well he might be, considering that this was the first silverware collected by the North London club for nearly ten years. Tottenham won the same competition in 1999 and were beaten finalists in 2002.
Tainio dismissed the idea that the top clubs do not care about the trophy: “The League Cup has not gone outside one of the big clubs [Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool] in the last three years, and for the players and the fans alike today’s win feels like we’ve just won the European Champions League. This is a huge thing for the whole club”, the player enthused.
“At the same time we have guaranteed ourselves a place in next season’s UEFA Cup, and that is no small matter, either. It was our aim to get back to winning trophies this year, and we’ve done it”, he continued.
Tottenham are still in this season’s UEFA Cup competition, and will play PSV Eindhoven home and away next month for a place in the last eight of the competition.
Tottenham Hotspur: Teemu Tainio
Teemu Tainio (Wikipedia)