ELF: Homegrown Hero Series – Finland’s fierce ELF linebacker Timi Nuikka

As the mid-season point of the European League of Football season looms, the ELF’s third season has shown the promising development of many domestic players. With that in mind, the ELF Homegrown Hero series aims to shine a light on those players outside of the US and Canada making an impact on the ELF.

Next in the ELF series is Finnish linebacker Timi Nuikka of the Wroclaw Panthers.  

Nuikka made his presence felt in the Panther’s week one win against the Hamburg Sea Devils snagging a pick-six, one tackle for a loss, and six tackles. Since then, Nuikka has been a key part of the Panther’s 3-1 start, notching 27 tackles, one sack, and two and half tackles for a loss. 

The 22-year-old got his start in American football playing linebacker, receiver and all other positions on the field for his hometown team in the Finnish Maple League, the Porvoon Butchers. Nuikka eventually earned a spot on the national team after stacking several standout seasons in Finland’s top league, before bringing his talents to the ELF this season. 

The Panthers linebacker sat down with us for quick Q&A discussing his football story and thoughts on his ELF debut season:

AFI: How did you start playing football?

Nuikka: I started playing football, because my dad and uncle used to play it. One day my dad just told me that we are going to practices and I fell in love with football immediately.

AFI: What is your goal through the sport?

Nuikka: My goal is just to succeed and help the team best I possibly can on every down.

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AFI: How does it feel to be a young player in ELF representing Finland?

Nuikka: It feels great! Still got something to prove in this league, but I know that I belong to this league. Luckily there are also other Finns in this league too, so everyone can see that Finnish players are true ballers!

AFI: What’s your favorite football memory so far?

Nuikka: I would say that when I was awarded the Matti Lindholm trophy last year in Maple League or then just that when I got the offer from Wrocław Panthers and when I signed it.

AFI: What’s the future of football in Finland?

Nuikka: We are producing a lot of good players out there, so I think that the future is bright in Finland. I also think that we are getting a ELF team in couple of years.

AFI: What’s it like for you living and playing in Poland and playing in the ELF?

Nuikka: ​​I’ve been loving it out here! My teammates and coaches have been super cool and we have really good chemistry out here! The most important thing is that we are one team and we all have the same goal for this season.

AFI: What’s the goal of the Wroclaw Panthers this season?

Nuikka: Win the championship. That’s it.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and