One of the most promising Finnish prospects in American football, Olaus Alinen, committed to the University of Alabama on Friday, a venerated college football programme in the United States.
The 18-year-old Alinen made his decision after receiving 46 scholarship offers from universities in the US. While he was considering other universities such as Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia and Miami, Alinen decided to go with Alabama in the end.
"This is the biggest thing to ever happen in American football in Finland," Finnish National Football League (NFL) announcer Mika Laurila told Yle.
Laurila further emphasised how big the decision was for the top rated offensive tackle Alinen.
"This is the Real Madrid of college football, which Alinen got to choose. The whole process really highlights this. It wasn't just that Alinen was offered a contract today, he had his chance to pick almost any team and chose to play here," Laurila explained to Yle.
While it isn't unheard of that Finnish American football players play college football in the United States—Edward Vesterinen currently plays for the West Virginia University—Alinen is the first to commit to a programme as storied as Alabama's Crimson Tide.
American football also runs in Alinen's family. Having been raised in Pori and standing two metres tall, his father Klaus Alinen was one of the first Finnish athletes to sign a deal with the NFL, although he never saw play in the regular season.
Olaus Alinen played for the Wasa Royals in 2020, but moved to Windsor, Connecticut in the United States to play high school football for the 2021 season. Alinen will play another high school season in 2022 before heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the autumn of 2023.