You could understand the Estonian FA and fans satisfaction of being drawn to England when the whole room of the ‘Beer Garden’ pub exploded with joy. It looked like they had scored a goal, instead they had just been drawn to a group already including San Marino and the Lithuanian neighbours. The pot later on brought Slovenia and Switzerland to complete the Group E.
‘It’s an interesting draw’ declared at the end of the event the Estonian FA press officer, Mr. Mihkel Uiboleht, to ‘Rumori di Spogliatoio ‘from the football results point of view we need to take the emotions down. Obviously playing against England is a great emotion. It is the second time we are in the same group. Last time they came to Estonia it was a big event. And the return at Wembley it was for us.’
Other reactions from the Estonian football family at the draw.
Magnus Pehrsson (Estonia coach) to Soccernet.ee: ‘England are favorites in our group. They bring appeal to the group and this is good’.
Janno Kivisild (Estonia assistant coach) to Soccernet.ee: ‘There are six months to prepare appropriately. It’s an intriguing group, packed with emotions and it’s pointless to make a forecast right now’.
There is only one Estonian international playing in England and it is Sander Puri, at York City FC in League 2. He watched the draw from home in York and said, ahead of the draw, that the third spot to qualify to the play-off could be achieved.
One of the strikers, Henri Anier, plays in Scotland at Motherwell following another Estonian striker, and very good friend of his, Henrik Ojamaa. Henrik relocated to Poland last summer (Legia Warsaw)
Last time England came to Tallinn it was in 2007.
It was a Euro 2008 qualifiers game on the the 6th of June. An easy win for Steve MacLaren and his side: 3-0 thanks to Joe Cole, Peter Crouch and Michael Owen nettings.
From that line-up against England are still playing on international level: right full-back, Enar Jääger (now at Lierse, in Belgium). Dmitri Kruglov (left full-back, at Estonian Champions side Levadia, he is looking for a club abroad). FC Augusburg Ragnar Klavan (central defender and captain of the Eesti Koondis). Midfielders Alexandr Dmitrijev (also at Levadia and about to return to Belarus) and Joel Lindpere (a past in MLS with NY Red Bulls and Chicago Fire, now in Czech Republic at Banik Ostrava). Kostantin ‘Kostja’ Vassillijev (Estonian Player of the Year 2013 and the authentic star of the team, he playes in Russian Premier League in Amkar Perm). Last, but not least, striker Tarmo Kink, a past in England at Middlesbrough.
The legendary Mart Poom, who defended the Estonian goal in 2007 has retired in 2009 during a game against Portugal (0-0). The former Arsenal, Sunderland and Derby County shot stopper (and goalscorer with Sunderland!) is the goalkeepers’ coach and owner of his own football academy (Nõmme United FC).
The return in Wembley, it was another 3-0. Two goals netted by Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Rooney secured the result until defender Taavi Rähn gifted the Lions with an own goal.
On the return, the Estonian XI featured also defender Raio Piiroja (former captain and now about to retire due to a serious injury) and had the legendary Martin Reim still on the bench.
Reim detains the record of all time caps for Estonia: 157. However, also a sad record: he is the most capped international to have never reached a final stage of any tournament as a player. Only considering the World Cup, he is been beaten by neighbour Latvian Vitalij Astafjevs who managed to at least play the Euro 2004 in Portugal.
Another legend of Estonian football, it is the flip thrown-in ‘father’, Risto Kallaste. However, no one else after him has ever repeated that athletic gesture.
English fans and critics can get an idea of what was the Estonian qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014 from our article making a balance of the campaign. The biggest result was a 2-2 draw pulled out with Holland. A late minute penalty granted to Van Persie helped Van Gaal to avoid a famous loss.
Since then many things have changed, as the Estonian FA did not renew the contract to Tarmo Rüütli (almost 6 years at the helm of the national team, the most successful coach in the history of the country’s football) and opted for Magnus Pehrsson (more information about the new coach here).
The Estonian FA wants to invest in a new playing philosophy devoted to ball possession, it was the end of year message of the Estonian FA chairman, Mr. Aivar Pohlak.
Estonia’s last game at home was against Azerbaijan, a 2-1 comeback win.
The first official game for Magnus Pehrsson and Estonia will be at Gibraltar on the 5th of March.
In this section of our webportal, you will be able to find updates about the Estonian national team life.
'Rumori di Spogliatoio' it is the first and only English speaking media about Estonian football embedded in the country.