Dundee United new boy Ilmari Niskanen made his name in Finland and now he wants to follow in Alfredo Morelos’ footsteps by making a name for himself in Scotland.
The Finnish international had a disappointing spell in the Bundesliga 2 with Ingolstadt but wants to get back to the level that won him his move from KuPS.
The winger played against Morelos when he was at HJK Helsinki and isn’t surprised he has made the impact he has at Rangers.
Niskanen confirmed: “Yes, he (Alfredo) was. I played against him several times. He is a brilliant player.
“He scored plenty of goals in Finland and would get past defenders so easily. He is a great player and has done well with Rangers.”
There are also some fellow Finnish internationals in Scotland like Glen Kamara at Rangers and Motherwell defender Juhani Ojala. He hopes his move to Tannadice can get him back into the international set-up after a lost season in Germany cost him a Euro 2020 shot.
Niskanen explained: “When I was part of the team last year, Glen was also there every time. He’s great with the ball, he never loses the ball, and he’s a very important player for our national team.
“I definitely think moving to Scotland will help me get back into the Finland team. Of course, it’s always a huge honour to be a part of the Finland squad. My focus is more on playing here and I know if I do well here then I will get the call up at some point.
“I won’t stress too much. It will come if it comes. Last November was the last time I played for Finland. I was part of the squad last Autumn but then in the second half of the season, when I was in Germany, I didn’t play well so I dropped out the national squad and then from the Euros, and obviously that was a disappointment.”
It was a sore one but he hopes to get the chance at a Euros or World Cup further down the line.
He stated: “It was Finland’s first ever major tournament so it would have been great to have been involved but I understand that the coach needs to pick players who are in good form. I’m really looking forward to getting back. “I was able to visit Finland. The first game I watched at home with my parents and my girlfriend. Then the second game I watched with my friends. The third game, against Belgium, I was in pre-season in Germany so I watched the last game there. I watched everything on the television so didn’t get a chance to visit any stadiums.”
The flying Finn got his first taste of Tannadice on Sunday and reckons the Dundee United derby win was the best atmosphere he has been involved in.
He proudly said: “It was brilliant. I absolutely loved the atmosphere. “It was awesome. “My first home game was a sold out derby and there is nothing better than to get the three points and a win. “Personally, I know I can do much better but the most important thing just now is how the team does. “It was the best atmosphere I have experienced in my life. “From the start to the final whistle was great and when we got the goal it was so electrifying.”
Niskanen, however, knows if United can beat Hibs tomorrow night and set-up a Premier Sports Cup semi-final at Hampden then that could easily eclipse their win over Dundee.
The 24-year-old admitted: “It is a huge game. “Hibs have started well and haven’t lost a game in the league. “We have also been great and I know at Tannadice, in front of our fans, that our players will give so much effort. “I think we can do well and if we do play well then I know we can do it.”
Niskanen was speaking at a Premier Sports Cup event. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player. Prices start