We’ve reached the number three spot in our 2015 review and we finally have our first player who also featured in the 2014 review. Billy Ions moves up from sixth spot to third following yet another superb season in Finland with the Kemi Kings.
After a couple of seasons in Finland’s third tier, the Kakkonen, Ions and his Kemi Kings team-mates were plying their trade in the country’s second tier in 2015 following their promotion.
However, the Kings adjusted to the step-up sensationally, and with new manager Jari Åhman, took promotion in their stride, losing just six games all season as they cruised to the Ykkönen title, winning by four points.
Ions played a pivotal part in securing the back-to-back promotions. The former Newscastle United started ever single league game, often wearing the captain’s armband as he fired 17 goals in 27 games
Equally adapt at playing on the left-wing as well as up top, Ions made both positions his own. He contributed both goals and assists during a triumphant season.
The seventeen-goal tally was an improvement on the 13 he managed the previous season in a lower division, reflecting on the seamless nature in which Ions made the transition to the Ykkönen.
The second half of the season was were the 21-year-old really excelled. Reunited with his former strike partner, American forward Christian Eissele, the pair fired home 16 goals between them in the last 11 games of the season to earn Kemi Kings’ first ever promotion to the top tier of Finnish football.
The last two games were exceptionally special for Ions, as he hit his second Kemi hat-trick in the penultimate game of the season, before following that up with a brace on the final day.
The superb end to the year saw Ions finish tied with former Ipswich Town striker Pablo Couñago as the second top-scorer in the league, just two goals behind prolific Finnish striker Kalle Multanen.
Highlights of Ions’ 2015 season. Head to 1:00 for a very cheeky overhead kick and 1:30 for a spectacular solo goal.
To learn more about Billy’s career before the 2015 season, make sure you read my exclusive interview here and also his entry in the 2014 season review.
2015 has been yet another success story for Billy Ions. He has the first title of his career so far and was also awarded the Players’ Player of the Year award in the Ykkönen.
2016 will see if Ions can make yet another seamless transition following promotion. This time he will be taking on the country’s big names in the top tier, the Veikkausliiga. At just 21 though, Ions has the best years of his career ahead of him and with three full seasons of senior football behind him already, we have only just seen the start of the Billy Ions story.