YOU RETIRED AS A PLAYER 2011. YOU HAVE BEEN A TEAM MANAGER THEREAFTER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOWADAYS?
Sami: During my long player career I was able to do what I really loved. Coaching still interests me, but right now I focus on enjoying my life and spending time with my family. I take full advantage of the fact that no one makes my schedules and I am able to do things that were not possible to do before. Sports and training are still a big part of my life. I ride motocross, snowmobile and I spend time in our cabin in Levi during the winters. My latest passion is motorcycle racing, which I got excited about after a few tries. For this summer I bought my own bike for the track. People always say that they will do things when they are retired. I think for myself that you have to do things when it’s possible to do them and when your physical ability still allows it.
I maintain my connection with my old club Liverpool by taking part in different PR events where you meet fans and partners of the club. I have played exhibition games with my old team mates and visited in training camps to meet their current first-team.
YOU ARE A MOTOSPORT ENTHUSIAST. HOW DID THAT BEGIN?
Sami: I have been a motorsport fan since I was a kid and I have always wanted to try every possible machine with loud noise and speed. During my playing career, I obviously had to avoid all risky sports, but already at the time I rode a bit of motocross secretly in remote places in Central Europe. After my career, I ran a junior motocross team for 8 years and then I got more excited about riding myself, too. During the summer I ride in veteran class of motocross Finnish Cup. Last year I placed 10th in overall points – even though the ranking is not what's important for me in that sport. I focus on riding against riders of similar skill level as me and finish the races safe and healthy.
I got familiar with snowmobiling originally through motocross and I have ridden for several years at my cabin in Lapland. Riding motcross bike or snowmobile is also good training. When riding, you have to be fully focused and then you forget all worries. Being behind the bars of a bike or a sled is like therapy for me.
WHAT KIND OF SNOWMOBILING DO YOU DO?
Sami: I enjoy trail riding the most, which I have been able to do in Lapland. I like when trails are variable and changing landscapes. Experience has brought more speed to my riding on trail and I have learned to trust the sled more.
Through increased speed riding has become more of training aspect. I get a good sweat on trail and the day after riding my muscles are tight. However, I always try to ride safe and avoid unnecessary risks – it is important to get back home healthy. I also don’t speed because I don’t want to lose my drivers license. I would like to ride longer safaris, like to the Arctic Ocean. I have tried deep snow riding as well, and it would be nice to learn more in some good locations. Snowcross looks like a wild sport and trying that on a track some day could also be on my to-do list.
HAVE YOU FOUND ANYTHING IN COMMON BETWEEN MOTORSPORTS AND PLAYING FOOTBALL?
Sami: They both require concentration. Football games last 90 minutes and if player is not 100 percent concentrated in every situation, it leads to errors on field. The same goes for motorsports: if you lose your focus, it could lead to unfortunate consequences. You can practice for concentration and I have also emphasized this to players that I have coached.
I always experienced great enjoyment while playing and for same reason I ride bike and sled. I enjoy riding with every cell of my body!