Interview: Jesse Joronen

Image: Svenska Yle

Fulham Focus’ Daniel Smith spoke to former keeper Jesse Joronen about his time at the club. Jesse came through the club’s academy, making his first-team debut in our first game post-relegation from the Premier League…

DS – Let’s start at the beginning, did you always want to be a keeper and who were your role models growing up?

JJ – I wanted to be a lot of things! A Scientist and NBA player in my early childhood but when I was put in goal full time at 10 years of age it felt like home. Jumping around like a crazy person appealed to me in a very deep way. My role model was my dad. Always trying to teach me the value of doing things the best way possible. It has helped a lot during my career and I’m most thankful for that. 

DS – How did the move to Fulham materialise and was it hard to settle into a new country at a young age?

JJ – Well I was scouted in Youth National Team games and from those games, there were clubs interested in signing me but I saw Fulham as the best option for me. 

To be honest it wasn’t so difficult to adapt as I knew the language and felt like I was just on this grand new adventure. I might have been a bit naive but I was young and just enjoyed doing stuff without thinking too much ahead. 

DS – You were outstanding in an U21 game vs Arsenal at the Emirates, pulling off save after save. Where does this match rank in your career so far?

JJ – Hahaha yeah I remember that. If I’m not wrong it was my first full match after my second knee injury. I felt liberated and just fell into the groove and it was pure enjoyment. Lots of action throughout the game but it was a loss in the end so I can’t say it was one of the best games but a good one as a performance definitely!

DS – You made your debut for the club in our first game post-relegation away to Ipswich Town. Were you expecting to play and looking back how do you think you did?

JJ – I felt like I had a good preseason and as there was no experienced keeper at the club I gave it my all every day and was hoping to be given a shot in goal. I was not expecting it but I felt like I had a chance so it was amazing to be trusted in that way. Of course, I could have done better and wasn’t the keeper than that I am now especially mentally but I learned so much during that period. Dealing with pressure and so on. It was a great experience for me even though the results weren’t there.

DS – Did training differ much between Vic Bettinelli and Tim Flowers?

JJ – Both of them are wonderful characters and coaches. I enjoyed working with them and felt they helped me a lot. Every coach is different and they have things they like to focus on more than the other so yes they were different but not radically by any means. 

DS – Did you ever find it awkward training with both Marcus & his Dad, Vic Bettinelli? 

JJ – I can’t speak on behalf of Marcus and Vic but the way they went on about their business at the club was very professional and I didn’t feel any awkwardness in that. Wonderful people the whole family! 

DS – Who were the biggest personalities in the dressing room?

JJ – There has been many during the years but as a leader, Scotty Parker is second to none. When I was training with the first team during the Prem years I always admired Brede Hangeland, Mark Schwarzer and Steve Sidwell. 

Later on, the funniest ones have been Marcus and Kev McDonald, both of them are great leaders too. 

DS Who were your closest friends at Fulham and have you kept in contact with anyone?

JJ – I still keep in touch with Andrew Lonergan and some of the boys from the academy years! Of course, I was close with Sakari Mattila as a fellow Finn during his time at the club and Mike Madl too. 

DS – Who did you room with on away trips and are there any funny stories that you could share?

JJ – Mark Maunders just kept putting me around. I get along with anybody so it wasn’t a problem but maybe I was considered unbearable as a roommate and everyone just asked for a move. I roomed with David Button most of the 2016/17 season. 

There are lots of little things that were funny as hell at the time but not an epic story that I could share right now. 

DS – Obviously I’ve got to mention your goal whilst playing for Bury! Describe it for us, Jesse, did you mean it and how did you celebrate?

JJ – I didn’t try it so I was a bit apologetic to the other keeper as it was a fluke in the first half. The rest of the match was more difficult too as I was just trying to focus on the game knowing I just scored. Felt out of this world though! But I’m more of a “get a header from a corner at the end of the game” kinda guy. So, hope I manage to pull that off some day. 

DS – To the tune of ‘A Lion Sleeps Tonight’

“He’s a keeper, a Finnish keeper, it’s Jesse Joronen… A JORONEN, A JORONEN, A JORONEN, A JORONEN, A JORONEN…”

Did you ever hear your song from our fans? I first heard it on the train coming back from that Ipswich game and loved it! What do you think of it?

JJ – Hahaha I absolutely love it. I heard it only once or twice as I wasn’t starting more than a handful of games but the fans giving you a song always gives you a fantastic feeling. I really appreciate it. 

DS – Who was the best player at the club during your time here?

JJ – Moussa Dembele, the older one. Untouchable with the ball at his feet and so strong with a great attitude. Then Berbatov of course, the artist. Saw things that no one else could. 

DS – How did all the first team managers you experienced differentiate?

JJ – Well we did have many. Some were more player friendly, some were distant. All of them had their own ideas and were trying to do the best job they could with the players they had. It changed always when a new manager came in but in my opinion, at the end, it’s making it click as a whole and that’s difficult. Tactics are different as are the methods but that doesn’t change the fact that to win something everything needs to go your way. For example, the Martin Jol era we played lots of small sided games and during Felix Magath the physical side was appreciated. They tried their best but it didn’t work. It’s just where you decide to focus and yeah it’s different for every coach. With Jokanovic I felt there was a balance for the first time in many years and I’m pleased that it clicked for the team last season. 

DS – Was it an easy decision to leave Fulham and why did you leave?

JJ – No it wasn’t easy at all. Fulham was my home for many years but it was the right choice for me. I needed to go and be number one somewhere else, learn and develop. Being number 2 or 3 will only get you so far. I have always wanted to play games and there wasn’t many of those for me at Fulham so it was the right decision to come to Denmark. 

DS – You’ve just had a good season playing for AC Horsens in the Danish Superliga. Did you enjoy the experience?

JJ – It went great! I enjoy playing and staying fit, doing well personally and the team was is in good shape too so I have no complaints.

DS – You’ve recently joined Copenhagen, how are you feeling about the next chapter of your career?

JJ – Yes I’m really looking forward to getting the season started! FC Copenhagen is a massive club with high ambition and I’m settling in really well. Preseason is already underway and I’m enjoying the work like always. 

People around the club have been fantastic in helping me to get everything sorted quickly so I can only focus on football now. It’s a brilliant opportunity so yeah I’m definitely excited to get going!

DS – What are your career goals/ambitions? What would you like to achieve before you retire?

JJ –  I want to win. Something big and meaningful and in general find out how good I can be. I tend not to focus on the goals too much. They’ll always be there but for me, it’s about the work. I like to focus on that. Staying healthy of course. That’s a big one for me. 

DS – I have heard several times that you’re one of the most intelligent players that have played for Fulham. What are your plans for after your football career and what’s your IQ?

JJ – Haha, I haven’t thought that far ahead and I think those comments are very generous. Haven’t done the test so it’s hard to say. Many things interest me to be honest. Coaching amongst those as well. I’ve got a media production company with my friends so that might be something I do later too. But whatever I end up doing I want to feel passionate about it. Same way I feel about football. 

DS – Finally Jesse, pie or pasty – Which filling?

JJ – The Craven Cottage pie of course.