He was once sent behind the Iron Curtain on a UEFA Cup spying mission.
Now RoPS Rovaniemi’s Scottish kit man, David Coull, is ready to turn double agent against his homeland by helping the Finns dump Aberdeen out of Europe.
Coull, originally from Glasgow, swapped Scotland for Lapland – the northernmost region of Finland – 37 years ago after his wife, Hilkka, suggested a move to her native country.
The football-mad, former newspaper production worker, quickly bagged a role filming matches for his local team, RoPS, and found himself travelling across the Continent to gather footage of their European opponents.
One such undercover mission took him into communist East Germany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Coull put down his camera and picked up the club’s kit bags long ago.
But the lifelong Rangers fan is ready to employ his insider knowledge of Scottish football when RoPS leave Lapland’s northern lights for those of Aberdeen.
“When we saw the group of teams we were in the Europa League draw with, the ones we wanted to avoid were Dinamo Minsk and Aberdeen,” he admitted.
“But now, after watching how our boys have been playing over the last three or four games, I’m actually quite confident.
“We have a lot of really good Finnish Under-21 players, plus a group of experienced players, and a couple who have played in the Scottish Premiership in Antonio Reguero (Inverness Caley Thistle) and Mahamadou Sissoko (Kilmarnock).
“I grew up watching Rangers, and I still watch them every week on TV in Finland. So I see a fair bit of Scottish football.
“I don’t think Aberdeen have got a player with the merits of Taye Taiwo, our left-back, who has played for the likes of Marseille, AC Milan and Dynamo Kiev.
“The more I think about it, the more I’m looking forward to it.”
Travelling almost anywhere from the city of Rovaniemi, 500 miles north of Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is no easy task.
But the trek to Aberdeen next month will almost certainly prove a walk in the park compared to Coull’s most-memorable footballing mission with RoPS back in 1990.
He explained: “It was a Friday afternoon, and the boss of the club at the time called me and said: ‘Is there any chance you could get to East Germany for tomorrow?’.
“I was a bit taken aback, but he explained that our upcoming opponents in the UEFA Cup were FC Magdeburg, of East Germany, and he wanted some footage.
“I phoned the wife and she said, ‘Off you go’. So I booked the tickets on the Saturday morning, went to West Berlin, where I had to go through the Berlin Wall, which was still up.
“It was Checkpoint Charlie and all that carry on.
“Then it was into a taxi, 200km down an East German autobahn to Magdeburg, where I filmed their match, then went straight back to East Berlin and through the wall again.
“I stayed overnight on the Saturday in West Berlin, then on the Sunday, early start, Berlin, Hamburg, Helsinki, back up to Rovaniemi – then I filmed our home game on the Sunday night!
“By the time we went back to Magdeburg for the game, sections of the Berlin Wall were starting to come down.
“So it was quite a trip, but it’s all part of the job!”
Coull’s impending return to Scotland – his first in a number of years – can be filed under ‘work’, too.
But he admits it will have its perks, whatever the score at Pittodrie.
“It’ll be nice to get over for a pint of Belhaven and a fish supper,” he joked.
“There’s not so much of that over here. There’s plenty of reindeer meat, though!”
Food for thought for the Dons fans plotting a trip to Lapland.
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