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Aki Hyryläinen

Aki-Mikael Hyryläinen
Born April 17, 1968, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Finnish and Nordic History), University of Helsinki

Vice President, Mercuri Urval, 2012-
Senior Consultant, Mercuri Urval, 2006–2012

Professional Footballer, HJK (FIN), Eendracht Aalst (BEL), FC Köbenhavn (DK) and FC Jokerit (FIN), 1988–2001

Football Coach: Kirkkonummen Salamat FCK, 2002–2004 (First team), HJK A-cubs, 2005–2007, HJK league team, autumn 2007. Helsingin poikien piirijoukkue (‘Helsinki boys’ area team’), 2006–2007 and 2011.

Board Member, HJK Ry, 2001-, Vice-chair, 2003–2013
Board Member, HJK Oy, 2009-
Executive Board Member, Santahamina Lower Secondary School, 2013-

Special Achievements
Finnish Champions, HJK, 1990 and 1992
Finnish Cup Winner, HJK, 1993 and 1996, and FC Jokerit, 1999
League Cup Champions, HJK, 1994 and 1996
Finnish Championships, Silver Medal, FC Jokerit, 2000
Finnish Championships, Bronze Medal, HJK, 1993, 1994 and 1995
Danish Cup Winner, FC Köbenhavn, 1997
Twenty-five caps for the Finnish national football team, 1992–1997
Helsinki Football Club: Hall of Fame players’ choice, 2005
Coach: twice A-cubs Finnish Championships (2005 and 2006) and one silver, HJK, 2007
Youth Coach of the Year, Suomen Jalkapallovalmentajat ry, 2006
Youth Coach of the Year, Suomen Palloliitto, Helsinki district, 2006

Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

Football in his veins

Aki Hyryläinen had a long career in football, mostly with the Helsinki Football Club (HJK). He played 25 caps for the Finnish national team, one season in Belgium, three seasons in Denmark, and two seasons in Finland with FC Jokerit. There are constant demands placed on the life of a professional athlete. The work is very determined and goal-oriented.

– Physically, I stretched myself to the limit. The will power needed to succeed and develop was tremendous. It also demanded significant mental resources. In team sports, the relief comes from a sense of community – the players support each other. The downside is the social pressure to succeed in each game.

Playing in successful teams such as HJK or FC Copenhagen, as Hyryläinen has done, may seem very challenging for many. Teams with a winning culture require a lot from their players, especially on the mental side. The performance level has to be high every evening. Every team does their best against teams like HJK. For many it’s a real buzz to defeat such a successful team. You have to be ready for this challenge and turn it into an opportunity. This awareness is part of the culture that HJK’s players are brought up with even today.

– Every night you play in a HJK shirt, you have to have the passion to win and take yourself outside of your comfort zone. HJK is a winning team. In each game you have to give of your best. If you have even the slightest bit of an attitude problem, the other team will immediately exploit it. The optimisation of your will, attitude and capabilities plays a significant role. Of these traits, mental strength and leadership values have been very beneficial to me in my later years.

For Hyryläinen, it was an honour to play for the Finnish national team.

– Putting on the national shirt is surely a great goal and achievement for any athlete in any sport. It is truly a great reward to be selected to represent Finland. I am grateful for those years and for each national team game.

After injuries had brought Hyryläinen’s professional football career to a close in 2001, he focused on finishing his studies at the University of Helsinki, financing his studies by working as a coach.

– I never aimed to be a coach. But the writer and reporter Ari Mennander talked me into becoming the head coach and developing the newly-formed Kirkkonummi football club, FCK Salamat (‘FC Lightning’). The famous ice hockey reporter Mennander founded the Kirkkonummi ice hockey and football club and named it ‘Salamat’, or ‘Lightning’, after Teemu Selänne, aka the Finnish Flash. I worked there for three great years as the head coach of the men’s team. After that my path took me to coaching the promising young talents in HJK’s A-cubs.

2007 was a watershed year in many ways. The permanent job at Mercuri Urval, which Hyryläinen landed in January 2006, made time management difficult. The combination of working, raising three small children and coaching was not exactly ideal.

– Coaching had become a passion for me and it was difficult to give it up. For extremely practical reasons, however, I chose a more stable career off the field, where I was able to take advantage of the lessons I had learned from sports, and still be with my family. I wanted to be at home more with my three kids and involved in their everyday life. I could coach more later on if I wanted to. Of course, football is still a passion for me, it’s in my veins. I will probably never get away from football or HJK. Fortunately, my children have also been strongly drawn to sports and two of them now play in the blue stripes of HJK.

These days Hyryläinen helps out with coaching his kids’ teams whenever his assistance is sought or needed. He is also a board member of HJK Ltd and on the board of directors for HJK ry (registered association). Aki Hyryläinen has also been a part of the coaching team for his son’s ice hockey club, Jokerit 03.

Aki Hyryläinen in Finland's colours. Photo: Urheilumuseo / Juha Tamminen.​
Aki Hyryläinen in Finland's colours. Photo: Urheilumuseo / Juha Tamminen.​


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