Position Attacking Midfielder - Striker
Alexei Eremenko Jr is already being talked about in Finland as a possible replacement for Jari Litmanen. Of course Alexei is only 20 years old, and has to achieve a great deal in his future career if he is to adequately succeed Jari Litmanen. However, Alexei has already shown enough promise as a playmaker to alert several clubs around Europe. He is also sensible enough to not let such lofty comparisons go straight to his head, "It's nice, but I'm not on his level yet" Eremenko rightly acknowledges.
Eremenko Jr's rise to sporting prominence began in 1991 when his father, former FC Dinamo Moskva and FC Spartak Moskva player Alexei Eremenko Sr, moved to Finland to sign for FF Jaro, bringing sons Alexei Jr and Roman with him to Pietarsaari on the country's west coast, and then eventually to HJK Helsinki. While his father played in Helsinki, Alexei Jr - or 'Losa' as he was nicknamed spent two years in France with FC Metz's youth team before making his Finnish league debut with FC Jokerit in 2001 and then rejoining his father at HJK for the following campaign. "It was a great experience at Metz," said Alexei Jr. "I learnt a lot and grew much more independent. I could have stayed longer, but it seemed very difficult to get a place in the first team. So I decided to return to Finland and that has turned out to be the right decision."
The Eremenko family was granted Finnish citizenship in the spring of 2003, and Alexei was immediately called into the Finnish Under-21 squad, ironically for a friendly against his native Russia. He immediately impressed at Under 21 level, and scored his first goal for Finland Under 21s against Italy from the penalty spot, coolly sending the keeper the wrong way in a manner reminiscent of Jari Litmanen. Eremenko was then fast tracked to the National set up and won his first full cap in a 3-2 friendly win against Canada on 11 October 2003.
That October Eremenko Jr helped HJK to the domestic double and then set off to England for trials with Birmingham City. Eremenko was invited for a further trial and compatriot and Birmingham player Mikael Forssell commented "We regularly have visiting players in training sessions. Normally regular team players don't comment on their performance. But many players admired Alexei's game". Birmingham and HJK could not come to an agreement over a fee for the playmaker and Eremenko made further appearances for the National team in friendlies against Honduras and Costa Rica played in Texas. Leicester City also invited Eremenko for a trial, but they did not pursue their interest.
Eremenko remained calm amidst the speculation on his future ,"If I move to England I'm prepared to sit months on the bench. It took almost a year before Jari Litmanen broke in to Ajax's first team, I won't be disappointed if the transfer doesn't happen. We are in the Champions League qualifications with HJK so there's lot to play for."
Eremenko scored his first goal for the National team in February 2004 in Finland's 2-1 friendly defeat to China in Guangzhou. It is uncertain at this time whether Eremenko will continue in the Under 21 set up for the forthcoming World Cup qualifications or will feature in the squads for the full team, but at this time Eremenko is one of Finland's brightest prospects.