Semi Nuoranen
Semi Nuoranen
Semi Nuoranen
● Semi Nuoranen, 1969 (JKK)

born in Finland

Semi Nuoranen was born on Sunday, 14th December, 1941, in Hollola, Päijänne Tavastia.

The forward arrived for a trial with Willie Thornton's Thistle in October, 1965, whilst a Reipas Lahti player.

Aged 23, he made his only appearance on Saturday, 30th October, 1965, in a 3-2 win at home to Hibernian in the SFL First Division.

There were no goals for Semi in his one-off appearance for Thistle.

Semi's club-list included Reipas Lahti, Partick Thistle and Ilves Tampere.

Bio Extra

The teenager came through with his Lahti hometown team, Reipas, who were promoted as champions in 1960. They did very well in the Premier League when they got there, always in the top half in the first half of the new decade. In June 1961, international recognition came early for the 19-year-old winger when he made his debut for his country in a World Cup qualifier in Helsinki, although Finland lost to Bulgaria by two goals to nil. Just 11 days later he won his second cap and, brilliantly, got on the scoresheet in a 4-1 friendly win at home to Norway. On the domestic front Semi received a coveted winners medal in 1963 as Reipas, runners-up the year before, became champions of Finland, pipping Haka Valkeakoski for the title by a single point. It was so nearly a classic double too, although Semi had to settle for silver in the national cup. This would be put right the following year as Reipas won the Finnish Cup for the first time.

In the 9th of his 33 appearances for Finland in May 1965, Scotland were in Helsinki on World Cup business. 20,162 were at the Olympiastadion and Scotland emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win. Partick Thistle chairman Tom Reid was impressed by Finland's outside left and made an approach. At this time, some Scottish clubs had started to realise that they could tap into the Scandinavian market to find talented and experienced players at an affordable price, with Dundee United, Morton and Rangers leading the trend. Although the initial approach was made in May 1965, it took several months for arrangements to be advanced between Partick Thistle, the player and Reipas Lahti. Semi finally arrived in Glasgow in October 1965, with a month-long trial being the proposal. Just before setting out for Glasgow, Semi wrote himself into the Finnish history books when he got on the scoresheet in a World Cup qualifier at home to Poland on 27th September 1965. The 2-0 victory was Finland's first-ever win in a World Cup qualifier. He flew into Prestwick just over 2 weeks later.

During his trial period Semi, nicknamed Sammy in Thistle circles, stayed in Jimmy Davidson's home; two internationalists under one roof! He spoke very little English, but was enjoying his time in Glasgow and took English lessons, so was clearly committed to extending his stay. Semi got his first run-out at Firhill within days of his arrival and, within 15 minutes, had scored for the reserves who went on to beat Dunfermline Athletic by 4 goals to 1. On the following Friday, Andy Roxburgh took him along to Jordanhill College to listen to a lecture on football in English, all part of the learning curve. Semi's first team debut came 7 days on from the Dunfermline game, Hibernian being the visitors to Firhill. Willie Thornton's Jags were hopelessly out of form at this time and had yet to win after 14 competitive games. Things weren't looking good when Pat Quinn and Peter Cormack (both of whom would manage Thistle) put Hibs 2 goals up as the rain poured down. The enthusiastic Semi was involved in a lot of the play - good and bad - and did well to set up Andy Roxburgh to pull one back before half-time. Brilliantly, the Jags turned it around in a rip-roaring second half and FINALLY secured that first competitive win of the season, 3 goals to 2. Grown men openly wept on the terracing!

The general feeling was that the pace of the game in Scotland had been a shock to the system for Semi and that, coupled with the strange new environment, meant that he did not show to his best. The following week, Willie Thornton diplomatically opined that the trip to Celtic Park would be too much for a newcomer to the Scottish game and Jim Conway got the nod for the right wing berth. That turned out to be a good decision as Conway's goal secured a most unlikely point for the Jags. D-Day came during the week when Conway found himself on the treatment table. Thornton earmarked Dan McLindon to stand-in on the right wing for the game against Aberdeen, and he had already made his mind up that there would be no contract offer for the Finn who subsequently returned home to Lahti a week earlier than was planned. Semi continued with Reipas for just over a year before switching to Ilves Tampere early in 1967. He returned to his beloved Reipas for a second spell in 1972 where, for the second time, he won the Finnish Cup, doing so in his first season back. That was the year when his international career came to an end and he played in 3 of Finland's World Cup qualifiers, winning one (vs Albania), drawing one (vs Romania) and losing one (vs East Germany). Semi was inducted into the Reipas hall of fame in September 2016, and it was a very fitting tribute. An even greater honour came his way in June 2022 when he was similarly recognised by the Finnish FA as the latest Gladiaattorit-Kunniakerhon (Gladiator Of Honour).

(WS)



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