Galway United have announced the signing of ex-Chelsea trainee Tomi Saarelma.
The 26-year-old winger joins the EA Sports Cup finalists from his home club in Finland, FC Lahti; the same club from which Chelsea acquired his services as a schoolboy in 2005 on a two-year scholarship.
There, he made 35 appearances, scoring on three occasions for the Chelsea under-18 squad. However, he failed to progress enough to warrant a professional contract in a squad which consisted of the likes of Scott Sinclair, Ben Sahar and Sam Hutchinson, thus making the decision to move back to his homeland to play semi-profesional football with FC KooTooPee, in the Finnish Reserve League.
Galway United manager Tommy Dunne had this to say to galwayunitedfc.ie about the Tribesmen’s newest arrival:
“Tomi is tidy on the ball and he’s quick, he would have a good knowledge of the various systems that we employ. He’s hungry to do well for the club and we’re delighted to have him on board.”
This signing is a welcome one in the west with many fans crying out for depth and new blood for weeks now. The hierarchy have responded adequately with what could prove to be a relegation-saving acquisition in Galway’s bid for survival.
Looming just four points above Limerick at the bottom of the league and having not won a game since they last met Longford Town on the 12th of June, things have not been looking good for the Tribesmen of late.
Coincidentally Galway’s next league match, which takes place this Saturday evening at 7:45pm in Eamonn Deacy Park, welcomes the visit of “De Town” and the Finnish winger looks set to make his debut in front of his new faithful faction.
“He’s got to play some games to get a bit of sharpness back but we feel that he has come in and integrated very well in training, he’ll go straight into the squad for Longford Town at home on Saturday. We hope he can settle in quickly and make an impact with us.”
The journeyman winger, who has played in several leagues across Europe, such as England Switzerland, Estonia, Germany and Finland is now looking forward to this new challenge which presents itself to him, and he already has his eyes on the prize, the EA Sports Cup.
“I’m really looking forward to the Cup Final in the middle of this month, it would be huge to help the team. It’s what football is all about for me. It would be amazing to help the club to win its first cup in a long time,” Tomi told galwayunitedfc.ie.
With the Finnish winger looking set to make the change of travelling over the Quincentennial Bridge instead of Stamford Bridge as a youth, all at United will hope the tricky winger will make things difficult for upcoming opponents during the run in of this year’s SSE Airtricity League, and perhaps have a say in winning Galway’s first piece of silverware in a new era for this proud club.
P.J Ó Cualáin, Pundit Arena