Full name: Yrjö William Kanerva
Born: November 26, 1902 in Impilakhti, Respublika Kareliya, Russia
Died: October 10, 1956 in Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
Affiliations: HPS, Helsinki (FIN)
Vili Kanerva was born in the southeast corner of the former Grand Duchy of Finland, which was then part of the Russian Empire. After World War II, this part of Finland was ceded to the Soviet Union (now Russia). From 1919-23 Kanerva played for Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi (HJK) winning his first Finnish Championship at age 16. After his transfer to local rival Helsingin Palloseura (HPS) he helped the club win five national championships in 1927, 1929, 1932, and 1934-35. Internationally, he earned 51 caps between 1922-38, scoring 13 goals, to become the first Finnish international with more than 50 caps. In the Olympic tournament he scored one of Finland’s goals as a halfback in their loss to Peru. In his youth, Kanerva was also an excellent speed skater, winning the Finnish junior championship in 1920.
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