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 Aatos LEHTONEN 1935-1941 
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Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:59 am
Posts: 365
Name: Aatos Ensio Lehtonen

Nickname: "Atski"


Country: :FIN: Finland
Club: HJK Helsinki
Position: *CF / WF (as optional)
Side: RF/BS
Age: 21-27 years (15/02/1914)

Height: ??? 182 cm
Weight: ?? 85 kg

Attack: 86
Defence: 31
Balance: 86
Stamina: 75
Top Speed: 78
Acceleration: 76
Response: 83
Agility: 75
Dribble Accuracy: 76
Dribble Speed: 73
Short Pass Accuracy: 72
Short Pass Speed: 66
Long Pass Accuracy: 68
Long Pass Speed: 69
Shot Accuracy: 84
Shot Power: 81
Shot Technique: 82
Free Kick Accuracy: 67
Curling: 65
Header: 91
Jump: 85
Technique: 76
Aggression: 89
Mentality: 77
Goalkeeper Skills: 50
Team Work: 72

Injury Tolerance: A
Condition/Fitness: 8
Weak Foot Accuracy: 5
Weak Foot frequency: 5
Consistency: 7
Growht Type: Standard/Lasting

P15: Goal Poacher
P21: Fox in The Box
S01: Reaction

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Positioning - Reaction - Scoring - Lines - Post Player

Attack/Defence Awareness Card: Attack Minded


Which footballer can lay claim to the greatest number of top goalscorer titles in the Finnish League? This is the sort of question that could win you a few pints down at the local hereabouts.
There would undoubtedly be a slew of wrong answers, including Valeri Popovich (prolific scorer with Haka of Valkeakoski throughout the 1990s), or Ismo Lius, who did it four times for Kuusysi of Lahti in the 1980s, or perhaps Atik Ismail, who was practically unstoppable for HJK Helsinki at the end of the 1970s.
However, the correct response is Aatos Lehtonen, of HJK Helsinki, who managed the feat five times, and in successive years from 1935 to 1939. In that first year he admittedly shared the honour with two other players, Nuutti Lintamo and Lauri Lehtinen.
"I was fortunate enough to have two excellent wingers outside me, in Pentti Eronen and Heino Mäkelä, says Lehtonen modestly as we meet shortly before his 90th birthday. Lehtonen celebrated the big 9-0 on Sunday at his home in the Veterans' House in Hyvinkää.

The strongly-built and lionhearted Lehtonen was always in the thick of it, and was known particularly as a good header of the ball. Hence it is no surprise that this veteran of many different ball-sports should acknowledge the flighted crosses that fed his goalscoring appetite. "I'd guess at least a third of the goals I scored were with my head, and always straight off the forehead."
Lehtonen is one of the great names of Finnish football. He still ranks 13th in the all-time goalscoring lists, with 109 strikes at the highest level. This number takes on an even greater significance when one considers that he only played around 100 League matches. In 1937 he broke the bank, scoring 25 goals in a mere 14 appearances.

Lehtonen belongs to that generation of players for whom one sport was definitely not enough. He played football, bandy, and handball at the highest level in an HJK shirt (and was a member of the 1937 National Championship winners at bandy), and he also turned out for the now-defunct Helsinki side Karhun Pojat in the basketball league.
Nevertheless, football was his main discipline, and living close to the Kallio sports ground meant that this arena was almost his second home. Lehtonen was something of a pioneer in terms of his training regimen, and would go out for a warm-up run at seven every morning before heading to work. "I bet not many of them do that today", snorts the veteran.

The centre-forward's goalscoring feats naturally got him noticed by the national team. His first appearance in a Finnish shirt happened to be under rather exceptional circumstances - at the Berlin Olympics of 1936, Hitler's propaganda extravaganza. It was quite a baptism for a 22-year-old.
"They even suggested to us that we should give the salute, but we didn't take it seriously. You could see the influence of Hitler everywhere. We just looked on in amazement."
The surroundings were not the only source of amazement for the Finns on that day, since they were given the run-around by Peru. They went down 7-3, and that was the end of the Olympic campaign.
Lehtonen recalls that he was somewhat puzzled before the match when the German-born head coach of the Finnish side Ferdinand Fabra ordered him to play on the left wing rather than in his accustomed position in the middle. He still cannot fathom that one out.

Aatos Lehtonen received 19 caps for Finland and scored seven goals. His figures both in a Finnish shirt and for his club would almost certainly have been a good deal more impressive than they are, but the war-years intervened. He finally hung up his boots in 1947.
Even so, he did not give up football altogether, by any means. In 1947 he was appointed as Finland's first full-time head coach. He remained in this post until March 1956.
Lehtonen experienced the Olympics as a coach, too. By the time the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki came around, he had built up quite a strong national side. Certainly nobody could accuse him of favouring his old club, as he gathered members of the national squad from almost everywhere else except Helsinki. The only regular from the capital was Åke Lindman (b. 1928), who juggled an acting career with being a "hard-man" at left-back. Lindman went on to become one of Finland's best-known film directors.
Lehtonen recalls that there were occasional grumbles about his team selections, but says that the idea at the time was to try to form a regular squad that could gel together.

There are those old-timers who still feel that the national team steered by Lehtonen at the beginning of the 1950s was the strongest ever to turn out for Finland.
Something of the calibre of the squad can be gained from the fact that it featured Finland's first three professionals: Aulis Rytkönen (FC Toulouse, France), Kalevi Lehtovirta (Red Star Paris), and Nils Rikberg (FC Toulouse). Lehtonen still regards Rytkönen as the best Finnish player of all time. He is not alone: Rytkönen was voted Player of the Year by Finnish sports journalists on three occasions in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Immediately before the 1952 Olympics, the Finns had gone to a warm-up tournament in Norway, where the Norwegian FA was celebrating its 50th anniversary. Somewhat surprisingly, the Finns walked off with the trophy, beating the hosts 2-1 and then disposing of Sweden 3-1 after extra time. Such feats have been a rare treat in the years since, as successive wins away from home do not come easily to the Finnish national squad.

It is hardly surprising that 90-year-old Lehtonen looks back on that tournament as the most enjoyable achievement of his coaching career.
In a sense it was a poisoned chalice, however, as the victory raised hopes of Olympic success. These were rapidly dashed in Finland's first game, which they lost narrowly to Austria, 4-3. And that was that. It was all knock-out in those days, with no room for defeats.
Lehtonen mutters a few words about how much the loss had annoyed them at the time, but immediately points out that "at least we managed to beat THEM".
The "them" here are China, to whom the current Finnish squad lost twice in friendlies last week. The Chinese Olympic team had arrived late in Helsinki, after the games had started. In order that their trip would not have been completely in vain, a friendly fixture was arranged against the hosts. Lehtonen's team ran out 4-0 winners.
"They were a very polite lot, the Chinese. Every time a Finn went down, there was always one of the opposition dashing over to pick him up.".

Aatos Lehtonen follows football these days mainly via TV, but he is a regular guest at home internationals.
During a long and diverse career as a player, he managed to come through largely without injury, something that he himself finds hard to believe. The only really serious phyical setback in a long life came a couple of years ago, when a stroke left him partly paralysed on his right side. His speech and his wits are nevertheless still completely intact.
He gets about with a rolator, and has nothing but good words for his life in the sheltered accommodation of the Veterans' House in Hyvinkää.
He will not be arranging any big birthday celebration, but word is that a few football veterans will be coming round. And past matches will be played over again.

Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:33 pm
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