Rumori di Spogliatoio

First training for Frank Liivak with Estonian National Team

Angelo PalmeriComment

Great enthusiasm and curiosity around the first training in Tallinn for the ‘Eesti Koondis’ about to take on a series of friendlies and the Baltic Cup in Liepaja, Latvia.

Most of the attention from the press was directed at Frank Liivak, the 17-year-old talent who has just completed his first season in Italy at SSC Napoli with the ‘Primavera’ team (U-21).

Under hot temperatures (30´C in the shade), the Swedish coach, Magnus Pehrsson, has directed the first session ahead of Monday game against Gibraltar. It will be Pehrsson’s debut at the A.LeCoq Arena and the game will mark the end of Andres Oper legendary career (he is the Estonian international top scorer). The veteran Estonian striker will give his farewell after a series of injuries have blighted him over the past months.

Quite symbolically, the same game might see the debut of Frank Liivak at the same age when Oper did debut (the veteran was 17 years, 6 months and 12 days old, Frank is a couple of months older). The videocamera of 'Rumori' (video below) has caught them chatting during the warm up, Frank was not even born when Andres debuted in a derby against Latvia (19th of May 1995).

Pehrsson himself has not excluded he might deploy Frank during the ninety minutes: ‘’I have not selected the starting XI yet’’ said Pehrsson before the training ‘’the plan is that he could play. It will be very interesting to see him in this atmosphere with the national team players.’’

Frank Liivak was suggested to Pehrsson by the U-21 coach, Martin Reim, himself caps recordman for Estonia  (157).

Pehrsson will try to understand if Frank can be really selected for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers as he has already shown to be much more mature than the average 17-year-old Estonian footballers, being also selected for the U-21 several times.

‘Rumori’ talked to Frank ahead of the training game yesterday, Saturday the 24th of July, and tested his good Italian as you can see from the video below.

Frank has been assigned the jersey number 11.

Let’s take a look at your season at Napoli, how would you evaluate it?

It was not a really easy season for me. I haven’t played all the games. However, if I look back now, it was simply fantastic. I have been called up by the national team here in Estonia and in Naples I have been training several times with Benitez’ team. I’m fine with this.

Frank in a starting XI of Napoli Primavera, top row, second from right

Frank in a starting XI of Napoli Primavera, top row, second from right

What were the finest moment and the worst one at Napoli?

Well, the worst one was the game against Real Madrid (UEFA Youth League – edit). I didn’t play much but it was painful to lose like that. The finest moment was the first time I trained with the first team…and also the game against Arsenal (UEFA Youth League – edit) when we played well, we won and we qualified for the next round.

Can you explain me what happened with this call-up for the last game against Hellas Verona in the Serie A which actually wasn’t? In Estonia it created quite a stir… (more info here)

Yeah, I know…it was a communication problem there, in the end it was Igor Lasicki to be called up not me.

Are you hoping to get a call-up from Benitez for the first matchday of Serie A 2014-15?

I don’t know really…this would be a dream for me, let’s see.

We met almost one year ago when you had just moved to Napoli. After all this time, what do you think about Naples and Neapolitans since you live there?

Well, there are people which are much different culturally from what I am used to, so sometimes I don’t understand them. However, this football city it’s really great. All these fans, bellissimo!

What is the game you have watched at ‘San Paolo’ stadium that you recall best for the emotions you lived?

The game against Borussia Dortmund, it was the Champions League debut this season. It was my first time at ‘San Paolo’. I watched when Higuain scored, bellissimo!

Which one is the Napoli player you get most inspiration from?

Mertens. He also speaks Dutch. Sometimes, when I train with the first team, we talk. I also fancy the way he plays. However they are all very strong: Hamsik, Higuain, Callejon.

Let’s talk about the national team now. It’s the first call-up for you and alongside a legend of Estonian football like Andres Oper. What is the meaning for you? Are you hoping to play?

I don’t know what to answer…however for me it’s bellissimo that I was called up…and I want to play! (smiles).

Alright, I will wish you good luck the Italian way: ‘in bocca al lupo!’ you know what to answer, don’t you?


26th of May, Estonia-Gibraltar, kick-off time 20:00h EEST
Info about tickets here