Name
Nicholas Hamalainen

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Born
1997 (24 years old)

Birth Place
Miami, USA

Position
Defender

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Height
178 cm

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Sport
Soccer

Team
QPR

2nd Team


League
English League Championship

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Nicholas "Niko" Antero Hämäläinen (born 5 March 1997) is an American-born Finnish footballer who plays as a midfielder or a defender for Queens Park Rangers.

Born and raised in the United States to a Finnish father and an American mother, Hämäläinen played for Finland at various youth levels, and made his debut at senior level in a friendly match against Estonia on 11 January 2019.

Club career
Queens Park Rangers
On 18 September 2014, Hämäläinen signed for Queens Park Rangers from the FC Dallas Academy. Former West Ham midfielder Ian Bishop, a family friend, arranged a trial for Hämäläinen, where he was spotted by QPR.

He made his league debut for QPR as a substitute for Joel Lynch in a 2–1 win against West London rivals Fulham on 1 October 2016. He made his first appearance in the starting lineup on 22 October 2016 in a match against Sheffield Wednesday.

2015–16: Dagenham & Redbridge loan
On 6 August 2015, Hämäläinen signed on an emergency loan deal at Dagenham & Redbridge until 5 September 2015.

Hämäläinen made his professional debut on 12 August 2015, in Dagenham & Redbridge's 1–4 loss to Charlton Athletic in the League Cup. He was named in the starting eleven and was replaced by Ashley Hemmings in the 58th minute. His loan was extended in September 2015 for an additional month.

2018–19: Los Angeles FC loan
On 25 February 2019, Hämäläinen joined Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC on a six-month loan deal. Prior to his signing, Jordan Harvey was the only recognised left-back at LAFC. After the announcement of the signing, general manager John Thorrington said “Niko has a bright future ahead of him and we look forward to furthering his professional development at LAFC... I am confident he will prove to be a valuable addition to the group". He made his debut when he came off the bench in the 81st minute and made an assist in the 90+2 minute for the winner in a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.

2019–20: Kilmarnock loan
Hämäläinen was loaned to Scottish Premiership club Kilmarnock in August 2019. His decision to move to Scotland was influenced by compatriot Glen Kamara, who plays for Rangers, and Lee Wallace, a teammate of Hämäläinen's at QPR, having joined from Rangers himself in June 2019. So far in 2019–20, Hämäläinen has been named in the Scottish Premiership team of the week twice.

International career
Hämäläinen was eligible for the United States and Finland, having been born and raised in the United States to a Finnish father. He originally played as a youth international for Finland.

He made his senior debut for the Finland national football team on 11 January 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, in a friendly match against Estonia. He played for 84 minutes until he was replaced by Juha Pirinen.

On 30 August 2019, Hämäläinen accepted a call to the United States under-23s, his first call-up to the United States at any level.
Hämäläinen made his competitive debut for Finland against the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Nations League on 6 September 2020, thus tying him to the Finnish national team.

Personal life
Hämäläinen was born and raised in the United States. He is of African-American and Finnish descent. He is the son of Timo Hämäläinen, who played for the Finnish football club Koparit in 1978–1982 in the SM-sarja before moving to the United States to work.


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