Sportsman keeps relationship with man 37 years his senior secret for fear of teammates' reaction

Meet the couple with a 37 year age gap who kept their relationship a secret for years because one was a professional sportsman terrified of his teammates' reaction.

Janne Puhakka, 27, and Rolf Nordmo, 64, met in June 2014 after chatting for a week online.

But the younger man, then 19, was a pro ice hockey player, playing in the Québec Major Junior Hockey team for the Finnish national team.

Despite falling head over heels for Rolf, Janne was still 'in the closet' because he was "scared of the way I would be perceived in the ultra-masculine sporting world".

They met each others families, but in public would pretend they were just friends, or even that Rolf was Janne's uncle.

But now they are out and proud.

Despite Rolf being the same age as Janne’s dad, and people often mistake them for father and son, the couple take negative comments in their stride.

Strangers even think they are "sugar daddy and baby".

Rolf, a fish veterinarian, said: "When we we go out people will often think we are a sugar daddy and baby or father and son.

“We both had to battle with ourselves to get to the point we are now.

“We love each other and that’s all that matters.

"Once people get to know us they understand that it’s not strange and we compliment each other so well."

Janne, now a student, added: "I was frightened, and I didn’t want people to know about my sexuality.

"I was scared of the way I would be perceived in the ultra-masculine sporting world.

“I had to keep Rolf a secret and it isn’t a nice thing to hide the person you love."

Janne and Rolf met in June 2014 after chatting for a week online, with the older gent flying three times from his home in Oslo, Norway, to Helsinki, Finland, to see his beau.

"I would pull his leg when we were out and say 'Janne let’s hold hands', he would freak out.

“I knew that I had feelings I had never felt before but was constantly telling myself it was just a summer fling and wouldn’t work because of our age gap.”

But they couldn't forget each other after their summer fling, once Janne returned to Canada, and Rolf paid him a visit while on a business trip to the US.

The ice-hockey player was staying with a host family and lied to them, claiming Rolf was his uncle so he could go and see him in his hotel.

“It felt so weird to be hiding our relationship - I just wanted to say he was my boyfriend,” added Rolf.

As soon as Rolf landed, he called Janne to finally admit his feelings and said: “I’m sorry I think I’m falling in love.

Janne had already opened up to Rolf about how he felt.

“I was fighting myself the whole time and was trying to fight the love I had for him but it was impossible," he added.

“I had never felt like this before.

“I thought 'what on earth does this young man want with me, an old pig?'”

Rolf was married to a woman for 17 years, and had three children, before coming out aged 40, so understood Janne's hesitation in being openly gay.

But Rolf told his kids in February 2015.

When the father-of-three revealed he was with a 19-year-old, his children had mixed reactions, but now all have a great relationship with the couple.

A few months later, Janne came out to his family, and revealed his boyfriend was the same age as his dad.

Rolf said: “They took it surprisingly well.

"This is what I admire about the Finns - they seem to take everything in their stride.

“It’s a concept they call Finnish sisu.”

After quitting hockey, Janne came out publicly in 2019 during an interview and hopes to help other men in the same situation.

The couple have lived together in Helsinki for three years and don’t plan on having children.

Often the couple get comments from people who say Rolf is Janne’s 'sugar daddy'.

“When we’re out on the town and I buy Janne a drink people instantly make
assumptions because I’m older, but he has his own job and makes his own money," he said.

“Sometimes I pay and sometimes he pays.”

There are times when people mistake the couple for father and son and people have even branded them lookalikes.

“They sometimes think we’re joking when we tell the truth," said Rolf.

“We find all the comments quite funny and once people start talking and get to know us they are generally so warm and accepting."

“I often say Janne is an old soul in a young body and I’m a young soul in an old body.

“It’s important to be happy now and I don’t see the point in dwelling on the future - who knows what’s around the corner?”

They hope to get a 'dog-son' - a German shorthaired pointer for when Rolf goes hunting in the mountains.

In the bedroom department, Rolf has absolutely no problems at all and Janne will even tell Rolf he needs a day-off.