Aki Riihilahti’s time with Crystal Palace was his first and only spell playing for an English club and, making himself a cult hero in SE25, the Finland international struggled off the pitch more than he did on it.
In particular, he struggled with one part of the English language.
Speaking with Palace TV in an exclusive documentary two years ago, Riihilahti explained his difficulties with the vernacular...
“I’d been chosen the worst dressed player of Crystal Palace for six years in a row and therefore people were calling my shirts ‘minging’,” he said. “I think it’s an honour, it’s a good thing. Because, let’s face it, don’t follow trends; make them. I thought ‘minging’ was a nice word because somebody said my shirt was ‘minging’. I thought, ‘oh, cool, this is a very nice shirt. I like it.’
“Having a date with an English woman and I accidentally told somebody that her hair might look minging and she was not very pleased. I genuinely thought it was a good word,” he continued before joking: “but to be honest, still my English is better than Dougie Freedman’s, so we have to remember that. Dougie Freedman spoke a language that nobody understood!”
Happy Birthday, Aki!