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Kuqi: 'Gentleman' Hodgson 'changed Finland' pre-Fulham loan

27 February 2021

As Crystal Palace prepare to take on Fulham at Selhurst Park this weekend, it means a reunion for Roy Hodgson with his former employers.

Hodgson managed Fulham for three years between 2007 and 2010, taking them to a UEFA Cup final in the process. One of his former players at Craven Cottage – and ex-Eagle – Shefki Kuqi told about his experience under the manager.

“He’s a top, top guy,” he said enthusiastically. “I don’t have enough words to describe what a gentleman he is.

“His experience, the way he trains. For me, I admire him a lot. If I have to follow somebody, it will be him.

“Even today, he’s always on the training field, doing the work. He’s got his assistants but he does a lot himself.”

Kuqi also played under Hodgson at international level, when the Palace boss took Finland to within touching distance of a major tournament.

“I’ll always remember how he changed Finland,” he says. “I always say that if he had come two or three years earlier, we would have qualified for the Euros or a World Cup. 100 percent.

“Because we had that generation: Sami Hyypia as captain of Liverpool, I was at Blackburn, Jussi Jääskeläinen at Bolton, Teemu Tainio at Tottenham… we had really good players, but we never got the results.

“When Roy came in he changed it, and we were very close: we went in to the last game and we had to beat Portugal to qualify.

“But that tells a lot about what a manager Roy was.”

Read Kuqi's extraordinary story in the extended interview here - including escaping war in Kosovo, facing fines for his trademark celebration and THAT incident v Wolves.

READ NEXT: Palace v Fulham full match details and how to watch on TV

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