Tuesday 12 May 2020, 05:00

Finland's Engman accentuating the positives

  • Adelina Engman sustained an injury in the third game of the season in England

  • Now the Finland international is using the enforced hiatus to regain fitness

  • Engman: "I have time to build my body up"

With the coronavirus pandemic having held the world in its grip for months now, the 2020 calendar year has been anything but easy, and particularly so for Adelina Engman.

The Finland international, who turns out for Chelsea at club level, played her last match on 22 September 2019 before suffering a serious injury and was largely absent as her country fought for UEFA Women’s EURO qualification.

Following a lengthy absence, the striker was eager to return to action and represent Finland at the Cyprus Cup, only to suffer another setback. “I’d been injured since September and I wanted to come back in the middle of February,” Engman told FIFA.com.

“I was training with the team for about three weeks and I got a small injury before Cyprus,” she continued. “But I still went because we thought it would be fine when I was there. But it was a little bit worse than expected so I had to rest, and then the coronavirus came.”

Now, the two-time Finnish league champion, who has also won the FA Women’s League Cup with Chelsea, is trying to make the best of an enforced break that gives her an opportunity to recover: “For me it’s both positive and negative. Now I really feel like I have time to build my body up after such a long injury.

"But on the other hand I really like to play. It’s been such a long time since I’ve played a game. I’m only trying to think about the positive aspects, to work really hard and I’ll hopefully be in really good shape when we start playing again.”

Engman also believes the postponement of European Championship qualifying could work in her favour, with Finland presently top of their group after four matches: “I want to help the team as much as possible. Now I have more time to get fit and get playing again. For me it’s definitely an advantage, I don’t know about the rest of the team (laughs). I feel everyone would of course have loved to play.

"We have to try to see the positive things. I’m trying to. I was only part of the first game of qualifying and missed the other three. Of course I want to be part of the remaining matches – we have some tough ones left. Our group is quite even with us, Scotland and Portugal. All the games that are left are really important.”

Another advantage for the 25-year-old is that she is currently in Finland and is able to train with a ball on a pitch. “The girls who are in England don’t have the opportunity to play with a football much,” she said. “But in Finland we’re allowed out on the football pitch, so I’m doing some work with the ball as well.

"It helps me a lot. I’ve been out for so long and didn’t do much ball work. I’m happy to use the ball as much as possible. It’s always a little bit more fun to work on your fitness on the pitch and by running outdoors.”

As much as Engman appreciates why the Women’s EURO was postponed for a year, she would have liked the continental showpiece to have been held directly after the rescheduled men’s tournament: “The final will be played in England, who host the Women’s EURO.

"People would be already in the mood for football and would probably like to watch the women as well. But of course I understand that they had to move the competition because of this pandemic.”

Factoring in her thinking is the fact that the Finnish men's national team qualified for a European Championship for the first time ever, with football increasingly growing in popularity in her homeland.

“I definitely feel like it’s on the rise,” she said. “Ice hockey will probably always be the biggest sport in Finland. I have the feeling that more people are becoming interested in football and following it. I know so many people that were following the men’s team when they got to the EURO.

"It’s growing all the time in Finland. I hope that the clubs get more money and resources so that the league can even get better, both in the men’s and women’s game, and that it can get more attractive for other countries as well.”