'We spent half an hour in the sauna, drinking beer and singing songs!' - Sparv reveals Finland celebrations

Tim Sparv, Finland
It was certainly a night to remember for the Nordic nation as they secured their place at a major finals for the first time

Finland captain Tim Sparv says the players “spent half an hour in the sauna, drinking beer and singing songs” before partying the night away in a Helsinki nightclub after they secured qualification to a major tournament for the first time in the country’s history.

The Eagle-owls beat Liechtenstein 3-0 on Friday to secure second place behind Italy in qualifying Group J and a spot at Euro 2020 next summer, their first successful qualifying campaign in 33 attempts stretching back to 1938.

The final whistle in Helsinki sparked scenes of unbridled joy, with supporters running onto the pitch to celebrate with the players.

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Speaking to SPOX and Goal, Sparv says those celebrations continued long into the night.

"Usually we Finns are introverted, reserved and cannot show our emotions well,” said the 32-year-old, who plays his club football in Denmark with FC Midtjylland. “That made what happened after the final whistle all the more interesting: the fans stormed the pitch, dozens hugged me, kissed me and said how much they love me.

"After the celebration with the fans on the pitch, we spent half an hour in the sauna, drinking beer and singing songs, then eating with our families and then in a club in Helsinki, where we celebrated the rest of the night.”

Sparv says the celebrations extended way beyond the players and the supporters in the stadium, with the whole country marking their achievement.

The midfielder also paid tribute to coach Markku Kanerva, saying his open approach allows the players to express themselves and play with freedom.

"I have not experienced anything that can even be compared to it, it's not just football, it's much bigger than that. It felt like it was all over the country,” he added.

"The coaching team has created a good work environment and we can take risks on the pitch without having to worry about getting yelled at. He (Kanerva) listens to us players, wants our input and our feedback, so we can have a say in how we play. That feels good.

"On Tuesday we will travel back to Helsinki, where in the evening there will be a big parade with the fans."