Anni Hartikainen, 20, made a bad mistake and locked herself in her home for a week – now she enjoys a different kind of attention in Sweden | Sport

Anni Hartikainen 20 made a bad mistake and locked herself

– Haaland, Haaland! Haaland is here!

Built in the middle of the Rosengård apartment block Zlatan Ibrahimovic the title field is full of young boys playing football.

Now the group’s games have been stopped for a while. Some run Anni Hartikainen around shouting excitedly. They recognize FC Rosengård’s Finnish newcomer, but not by his national team or club team performances, but by his whitish-white hair.

– My friends and I went here a few weeks ago when we did a city tour and they asked to play. They call me Haaland, Hartikainen explains with a laugh.

Of course, young boys are not the only ones. Hartikainen has heard about the resemblance to Manchester City’s Norwegian star Erling Haaland’s with before. There are hundreds of comments on social media.

In Romania, a spectator asked for a group photo, even though Hartikainen didn’t play a single minute in the Nations League match.

– He kicked me out of warm-ups. For a couple of years, I’ve heard a lot (about similarity). Even in Kuopio, the little guys always shouted Haaland. I myself know that it’s a joke and I think it’s quite funny.

Suomalaištahtih jumps into the game, the teams are divided again. Hartikainen’s shoe comes off immediately during the first stroke. Must take it easy.

One of the boys has a solution.

– I have Seger’s buttons, I can go get them! the boy announces in Swedish and before Hartikainen can react, the boy has disappeared into the stairwell.

Soon he will be back with the legendary midfielder of Sweden and Rosengård by Caroline Seger signed studded shoes. The boy promises Hartikainen to have them as his own if the games just continue.

– He is my teammate, I could ask him to do the same!

Anni Hartikainen has been able to practice writing letters.

He was also a popular guest at Rosengård.

The boys demand autographs from Hartikain: on the ball, on the hand, on the shoes – anything!

From these corners, no football star can get away without being noticed.

The national team striker who hung his cleats on a nail last summer Zlatan Ibrahimovic lived his childhood in one of the houses, on the fifth floor. That’s why the field built in the middle of the housing association is named after him.

During his career, Zlatan shared opinions both on and off the field. He became known not only for his goals but also for his immortal shots, which have their own wikipedia site. Opponents hated, our own mostly loved.

Hartikainen has also shared his opinions in Finland. In the Finnish Cup final, Hartikainen’s airing was criticized as arrogant when he put his finger in front of his mouth.

Anni Hartikainen’s vents have not pleased everyone.

But that’s what Hartikainen is known for in Finland: for its memorable ventilations.

The cheers have been preceded by more impressive goals than the other. Hartikainen is an undeniably talented soccer player who, despite her young age, was among the best in the Finnish women’s soccer league for the past three seasons.

In interviews, Hartikainen has appeared with a twinkle in the corner of Savo’s eyes as a well-spoken savant who is not afraid to speak his goals out loud.

You have to ask Hartikainen: does he think that he and Zlatan have something in common.

– There can certainly be similar character traits. But maybe I’m not so brave to comment myself, we are definitely different in that way.

There is a good reason why Hartikainen is perhaps more careful with his words these days.

Demand around the world

Malmö’s old town is idyllic. The sun’s rays peeking out from behind the cloud cover attract outdoor cafes, even though it’s still quite calm in the early afternoon.

Most people are at work, but the football players’ day is already in full swing.

Hartikainen could sit as a professional with a cup of coffee in his hand anywhere else than in the center of Malmö. There would have been other takers for the promising Finnish gambler in Sweden, but also in Scotland, Germany, the United States and Spain.

There had already been interested clubs before the fairytale year 2023.

Anni Hartikainen is satisfied with her choice to come to Malmö.

Hartikainen, who attended high school, decided to stay in Kuopio for another year. With KuPS, he won the Finnish Cup and the National League, got his first call-up to the A national team and scored his first national team goal in November.

– Now that he has stopped after last year to think about what all happened last year in such a short period of time, he somehow wonders how he was able to process everything that happened so quickly. How has the head kept up with all those.

The support network has been a big help. Those close to me have supported me in good and bad times.

Hartikainen says that he still does not believe everything that happened to be true.

On the other hand, I haven’t even had time to enjoy the performances, as I’ve already been in a hurry for the next one. When the national team call came, he wanted to play. The next goal was a debut and a goal.

– Nothing was enough for me. When we won the cup, it wasn’t enough, I wanted the championship. I didn’t take a breath until I had accomplished all the goals in the season. All my focus was on my goals. For example, I didn’t think that now I’m in the national team, I can take it a little more relaxed. I wanted to win everything out from under me.

2023 was a successful year for Anni Hartikainen.

In addition to the Finnish Cup, KuPS won the National League.

The season culminated in the selection of the National League’s best player. The award was presented at the Captain’s Ball gala, which was organized in the middle of the women’s national team window.

Hartikainen and a couple of his teammates had received an exception to participate in the Friday night gala and then fly to Slovakia after the rest of the team on Saturday morning.

The evening dragged on, Hartikainen overslept and missed his flight. Hartikainen’s national team camp ended there and the commotion was over.

Speculations about Hartikainen’s rowdy evening and alcohol use made headlines in the media.

Hartikainen agrees to return to the topic for a while, even though the team already discussed the matter at the February camp. Hartikainen apologized and the teammates could ask questions about the topic if they wanted. Then it was left in the past.

The head coach Marko Saloranta on the other hand, immediately drove to Kuopio the morning after the trip to Slovakia to talk things through with the young star.

Hartikainen took part in the next national team event.

– That commotion was a really big surprise to me, that it got so much attention. It was really tough. I didn’t know how to handle it. I just tried to ignore everything and lay in a dark room for a week, Hartikainen times.

He received support from the team’s sports psychologist, friends and family.

– Fortunately, there were so many friends in Kuopio supporting me to go through the matter. Everyone close to me supported me in the matter, no matter what they thought about it. Everyone was trying to lift me up.

The uproar eventually subsided during the week.

Hartikainen slurps his coffee and says that he learned a lot from coffee.

– I saw the other side of the public. Surely everyone can learn from this. People are also interested in women’s sports and women’s football. Everything can be made a fuss and news about, you have to be careful.

Not only time helped in recovering from the miscarriage, but also the known move to Malmö.

Now Hartikainen can already smile, even though his start in Malmö was nothing like straight out of a fairy tale.

When he arrived in southern Sweden, it was one of the coldest days in Malmö for a long time, it was almost ten degrees below zero.

Hartikainen had left his home in Kuopio at five in the morning. There had been a misunderstanding about the arrival time, and in the end the Finnish defender dyed alone in the cold for an hour waiting for a ride.

I had time to think about everything.

20-year-old Hartikainen had lived in Kuopio all his life. Even though he had moved in with his teammate when he was only 17 years old, he was always used to having friends and family around.

The distance from Malmö to Kuopio as the crow flies was over a thousand kilometers. The fastest way is to make two flights in a few hours.

The city of Savo had 124,000 inhabitants, while the new hometown Malmö is Sweden’s third largest with more than 362,000 inhabitants. The metropolis of Copenhagen is only half an hour away by train.

The change is gigantic in every way. It was lonely at first.

In addition to training, energy was spent getting to know new teammates.

– After practice, I just wanted to go home and lie down, and I couldn’t bear to be with anyone. Although the physical load was not that much, the mental load is big when you move to a new country and join a new team. Everyone in Kuopio knew me, so I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone.

At KuPS, Anni Hartikainen was always an opening player.

There was no need to fight for playing time.

In Malmö, he is facing a new situation.

The environment at KuPS is the best possible for a female player in Finland. Players get paid and can live like a pro.

In Rosengård, however, the level is tougher than in Kuopio. The players are more experienced and demand a lot from themselves and each other.

– In every training, you have to fight for a place even in the lineup, when everyone starts to be in shape. For many weeks, I’ve had the feeling that training has gone so well that I have to be at the opening. But I’ve always been disappointed and had to start from the bench and maybe get it for 15-20 minutes.

For Hartikaina, the situation is new. The city’s own kid, who was cooling off on the sidelines at KuPS, was in the opening week after week, after all, he was one of the best players in the series.

– It has felt tough. You have to trust that at some point that opportunity and screen place will come. I’ve taken this with the attitude that this is a really developmental environment for me. I know that when I have to fight for my own position every day, that’s definitely what moves me forward the most.

Now Hartikainen says he has settled down. Friends have been found in the team and outside the team. It’s nice to go on adventures around Malmö with them: hang out like the Swedes in idyllic cafes, take a sauna in the public sauna on the beach or, for example, cycle to Rosengård to play street football.

The Malmö tour culminates at the Juutinrauma bridge connecting Copenhagen and Malmö. The bridge, completed in 2000, is almost eight kilometers long and cost SEK 37.8 billion at the time. Since then, it has become famous for its popularity in the Silta series.

In the evening sun, the bridge is a dazzlingly beautiful sight. On the other side, the bright lights of Copenhagen shine dimly.

From Denmark, you can easily reach Europe by car, where bigger fields await.

Hartikainen is currently enjoying himself in Malmö, and he is in no hurry to leave.

When will the trip continue to the bigger arenas in Europe?

– I hope that within five years. I first want to win the championship here in Sweden and then see what is the best league in the world and get there to play.

Maybe a small dose of Zlatan could be grabbed from Rosengård.