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By ESPN Staff

Paatelainen leaves Kilmarnock

Mixu Paatelainen has left Kilmarnock with immediate effect to take over as manager of Finland, the Scottish Premier League Club have confirmed.

Assistant first-team coach Kenny Shiels will take control of team affairs following the departure of the 44 year-old, who is expected to be unveiled in his new position at a press conference later on Thursday.

''It's wonderful having such a challenge,'' said Paatelainen. ''This is a dream.''

He takes over a side languishing in fifth place in Group E of Euro 2012 qualifying, having taken three points from their opening four games. Olli Huttunen and Markku Kanerva have led the side on an interim basis following the departure of Stuart Baxter five months ago but Paatelainen was always the first choice of the Finnish FA.

The organisation's president Sauli Niinisto said: ''We are very pleased that we got the top name on our list.''

A statement from Kilmarnock read: ''Following careful consideration, Mixu has decided that the honour of managing his national team is one which he cannot refuse.

''He will take up his duties with the Finnish FA with immediate effect. Assistant first team coach Kenny Shiels will take charge of the club's preparations for its forthcoming matches.''

Chairman Michael Johnston added: ''I wish to record my personal thanks to Mixu for the manner in which he has conducted himself throughout his time at Kilmarnock, always positive, open to discussion and never complaining of any lack of resources, and to wish him every success in his new role as national team manager of Finland.''

Shiels was disappointed to learn of Paatelainen's departure but understood his reasons for quitting.

He said: ''I've lost a good colleague. I'm disappointed on that front but I'm also happy for him that he can manage his country, which is a fantastic honour. It's a good moment for him.''

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