England football manager Roy Hodgson has been honoured with the Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland. Mr Hodgson was the manager of the Finnish national team from January 2006 to November 2007. Under Hodgson, Finland reached its highest ever FIFA ranking to date and got one goal away from qualifying for a major tournament, for the first time in the history of Finnish football.
Mr Hodgson was awarded by the Ambassador of Finland to the United Kingdom, H.E. Pekka Huhtaniemi, at his residence in London on September 14. Mr Hodgson’s appointment to the Order of the Lion of Finland was granted by the President of the Republic of Finland, H.E. Sauli Niinistö, who is also the former Chairman of the Finnish Football Association.
“Roy’s time as the manager of Finland lifted the level of Finnish football culture and made Finland internationally better-known as a football nation”, Mr Huhtaniemi said at the ceremony, held in the presence of Mr Hogdson’s family members.
“Roy brought with him a higher degree of professionalism and more disciplined style of playing. During his term in Finland, also the fan culture around football developed towards an European niveau.”
The current England manager remembers the time he and his wife spent in Finland with affection. “I enjoyed my life very much. Not only in football, but outside of it as well. I hope that my relationship with Finland, which is already great, becomes even greater”, Mr Hodgson said.
Mr Hodgson’s England is yet to face his former team Finland. Ambassador Huhtaniemi regretted that the two countries weren’t drawn in the same group for the ongoing World Cup qualifiers. His wife Liisa, however, did believe this to be a blessing.
Last week Ambassador Huhtaniemi also decorated Mrs Helena Alton as the Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland for her long-standing merits that have required personal commitment for Finland’s benefits and making the country better known particularly in her home, East Midlands of England.
Professor Anthony Giddens (Baron Giddens of Southgate) was decorated earlier in the summer as the Commander, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland for his significant merits for Finland’s benefits that have required personal commitment, especially during his time as the director of London School of Economics (LSE).
Text: Sakari Ilkka, Embassy of Finland
Photos: Tiina Heinilä, Embassy of Finland