Arsenal defender Jenkinson receives hero’s welcome against Manchester City

Playing in his mothers homeland of Finland, England right-back Carl Jenkinson was very well received.

Arsenal took on Manchester City in a marquee friendly on Saturday evening - and the comfortable nature of the score-line certainly surprised many.

Both teams played well in the tie, but for once it was Arsenal that looked the more ruthless. Goals from Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud were enough to claim victory over the 2012 Premier League champions - despite a late consolation from new signing Alvaro Negredo.

The location for this friendly was a slightly odd one - Helsinki, Finland had the pleasure of hosting the game.

The Suomi public had plenty of star attractions to keep their eyes on in this fixture with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany all on show - but there was no doubt who was the star of the show as far as the Finnish supporters were concerned.

On 73 minutes the stadium began a rapturous standing ovation - when Carl Jenkinson took Bacary Sagna’s place at right-back.

Of course there is good reason for the applause he received - Jenkinson is half-Finnish.

His mother is from the Scandinavian country and Jenkinson even played for the Finland youth teams as a teenager.

But he has of course represented England at senior international level - playing in the friendly against Sweden in November 2012.

But any thoughts that his decision to represent England over Finland might have damaged his reputation in the country were quickly quashed - with goodwill messages and ‘Jenkinson 25’ shirts around the Olympic Stadium. There was one more after the game, when Jenkinson gave his shirt to two young brothers in the front row.

He completed a lap of honour around the ground, applauding the fans who had made him so welcome on his return to his semi-paternal homeland.

But it is of course not too late for Jenkinson to play for Finland one day. The friendly against Sweden was not an official match - therefore he could still play for Finland should he wish to.

It would be a popular decision in Finland - and with the competition for places in the England ranks, an unsurprising decision.

But Jenkinson made it clear, despite his special experience in Helsinki, that he is committed to England for his international career:

"I will always have a strong connection with Finland, but ultimately I had to follow my heart. I was born and bred in England, its where I grew up and where I call home. I had to look myself in the mirror and ask myself, 'What do you really feel?'. The answer to that was English, and that was the main reason behind my decision.’’ 

But it seems, despite his England decision, he will always be revered in his second home.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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