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Montreal Impact’s Jukka Raitala ‘honored’ to be named team captain

Samuel Piette and Evan Bush to serve as Montreal Impact alternate captains

Jukka Raitala has been named captain of the Montreal Impact for the 2020 season. (Photo courtesy Major League Soccer)

MONTREAL — For the first time in his professional career, Jukka Raitala can call himself a team captain. The Finland international announced on Saturday he would be wearing the Montreal Impact’s armband for the 2020 season.

“I’m honored, I’m very happy,” said Raitala. “It’s an exciting challenge for myself, I’ve never been captain before so it’s time to step up in a way and I’m looking forward to doing that job.”

After the coaching staff discussed the matter internally, head coach Thierry Henry informed Raitala he would become the third captain in the Impact’s MLS era and the eighth in club history. He follows Davy Arnaud and Patrice Bernier. A group of several leaders shared the armbands in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

For Henry, selecting Raitlala as club captain was “a logical decision.” However, the Frenchman insists the decision wasn’t personal, but for the good of the Impact’s current team.

“It’s not about what I’m looking for but rather what the player represents within the squad,” Henry said. “It depends on the squad, on the city and on the moment. So it wasn’t about what I was looking for but what the squad needs.”

“Jukka is the captain because the squad needs Jukka.”

Henry also named Samuel Piette and Evan Bush as Raitala’s alternate captains. 

Leading by example 

Raitala admitted he didn’t expect Henry to select him as captain. The club knew about his captaincy during the last few days of training camp.

Raitala wore the armband as the club’s official captain twice already. He started during the Impact’s last preseason game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and against Deportivo Saprissa in the Concacaf Champions League.

“It took a little time to process it because I’ve never been captain before,” he said. “It’s a role I need to grow [into] and it’s something I want to do as well.”

The Finn said he hopes to be a captain who leads by example. He added he didn’t have any models to take inspiration from and he intends to remain a man of few words.

“What I thought was that I’m not going to change who I am,” Raitala said. “I think the reason I was chosen was because of who I am so I’m not going to change my personality or behavior. I’ll do the same job that I did and maybe lead a little extra and take more responsibilities but that’s it.”

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