Award-winning sports journalist Timo Innanen’s purgatory – “The worst option could have happened”


imo Innanen, 39, reports in a live TV broadcast about football star Christian Eriksen stepping onto the field. A couple of weeks later, he himself was diagnosed with a heart defect.

The date June 12, 2021 has been permanently etched in the minds of many who follow sports. The Finnish men’s national football team played the first match in its history at the European Championships. Finland unexpectedly won against Denmark, but the day was also memorable for completely different reasons.

In the final moments of the opening period, Denmark’s star player Christian Eriksen fell to the surface of the grass. The match was stopped, and the 25,000 spectators who arrived at Parken watched the events in shock. The game instantly shifted to the sidelines: Eriksen was fighting for his life. His heart had stopped. He later said he had been dead for five minutes.

At that time , MTV Urheilu’s reporter Timo Innanen found himself in an extremely challenging position. Innanen reports from the spot for Tulosruotu’s live broadcast.

– I commented on the shocking situation from the stadium, but there was no accurate information about the final result at that time. Of course, Eriksen had already informed his teammates that he was mostly fine, Innanen says.

The brutality of life showed itself to the 39-year-old from Vantaa in a gruesome way. Innanen heard from the doctor about his own heart defect after returning from a work assignment. The heart murmur heard in connection with the chest pains was found to be a structural heart defect.

– It was quite a shock. After a year of follow-up, I was put on the waiting list for surgery. After that, there was a demanding open-heart surgery.

Originally from Tampere, Innanen is a soccer player by background, who went through the Ilves junior mill. During his time in the army, he represented the neighboring club Tampere Pallo-Veikko, where he made his debut in the representative team.

Innanen admits that ending his active career in his twenties was a hasty decision. Since there was no clear career prospect in the sport, Tampere’s nightlife became even more familiar.

– There was too much partying. I had some kind of identity crisis when my playing career and my relationship ended at the same time. My face was tense, I behaved badly and I still regret it. I wasn’t my good-natured self at all. The parties involved have been apologized to and fortunately things have been resolved. A few years went by without a doubt, he admits.

Innanen found the sports journalist’s studies a suitable seam.

– In my working career, I have been able to combine my two great passions: sports and journalism. I am grateful that I found a new passion for my life in sports journalism.

Innanen, who enjoys investigative journalism the most in her work, is known for her meritorious news work, among other things. More than five years ago, he highlighted cases of sexual harassment that rocked Finnish women’s team sports. They launched an investigation by the Finnish Sports Ethics Center into harassment in the national football and ice hockey teams.

In addition, Innanen has revealed football-related result manipulation and doping cases.

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