Rumori di Spogliatoio

Sweden vs. Estonia, precedents

Angelo PalmeriComment

Having chosen a picture of legendary Estonian goalkeeper, Evald Tipner, for the following piece about the precedents between Estonia and Sweden it’s not a case. Tipner’s name is tied with one of the 14 previous games held between the two countries across the Baltic sea between 1921 and 1997 (with the obvious long break corresponding with the Soviet occupation of Estonian).

Why is Evald Tipner’s name so important in the precedents we will discover soon.

The first game played between the two national sides dates back to the 23rd of July 1921. Estonia has just gained its independence from Russia in turmoil and is about to take their second official match ever. The first was a year before when they were badly thrashed by Finnish neighbours in Helsinki (6-0).

The game it is already historical per se since it’s the first official game played at home in Tallinn and records Estonia’s first positive result since manages to hold the Swedish guests on goalless draw. It’s the first and last positive result ever against Sweden.

The remaining 13 games have seen Sweden prevailing all the time.

Out of the 14 official games, they were most friendlies (10) with just four games played as World Cup qualifiers. Single games in 1933, for the World Cup held in 1934 in France, in 1937, for the World Cup held in Italy in 1938 and the last two confrontations of the series held back in the 90’s (1997, for the World Cup held in USA in 1994).

The very last game dates back to the 11th of October 1997 when Estonia travelled to Stockholm to pay the visit back for the WC94 qualifier. Sweden won 1-0 thanks to a goal scored by Zetterberg and, since then, the two teams have never clashed again.

1997 clash in Tallinn recorded Marko Kristal goal from corner kick (05:46)

It will be Estonia’s 395th official game tonight, as spelt by the Estonian FA website page where all the games are accurately recorded in the best bookkeeping practice.  

We still owe you an explanation about Evald Tipner. And why he is, reluctantly, in the history of World Football. Seriously.

Marko Kristal is present-day FC Levadia Tallinn's coach (RdS)

Marko Kristal is present-day FC Levadia Tallinn's coach (RdS)

The event dates back to the 1933 game. It’s the 11th of June 1933 and Estonia travels to Stockholm to take on Sweden. It is Estonia’s first WC qualifier ever, another historical milestone of the ‘Eesti Koondis’.

Quite singularly, it’s the Swedish ‘neighbours’ to christen the national team of the tiny country that will lose his independence only 6 years after because of the Ribbentrop-Molotov act.
Estonia has always been looking at Sweden as the most illuminate rule they have ever had. ‘The Good Old Swedish Period’ they were and are accustomed to say as at odds with the Russian rules.

However, the final result was not that good: 6-2 for the Swedish side, among the largest losses suffered before the war broke.

Ca va sans dire, it was Sweden to open the score of the game. However, that goal accounts for the first goal ever scored at a World Cup qualifier in the history of the FIFA competition.

The author of the goal is subject to a controversy.
According to some sources, Swedish captain, Knut Kroon, scored it. However, others, report it was an own goal from Estonian goalkeeper, Evald Tipner (***)

Tipner in action with the national team stripe (

Tipner in action with the national team stripe (

Evald Tipner was an all-round sportsman.
Not only he played 66 times for Estonia (23rd in the overall list of internationals) but represented Estonia also in the bandy (a variation of ice-hockey) national team (where he collected 7 caps scoring 9 goals) and in the ice-hockey one (1 cap). Additionally, he did not play only as a goalkeeper, but plied his train at Sport Tallinn as a striker (19 goals in 112 appearances according to helping the defunct club to seven league titles and one Estonia cup before the war. Not happy with all his achievement, he was also a track-and-field athlete.

Tipner played in four World Cup qualifiers including the one against Sweden in 1933 (here you can find his personal record).

In 1970, and well before the likes of Mart Poom, he was acknowledged as Estonian best goalkeeper ever.

Lembit Peegel / EJL

Lembit Peegel / EJL

The Estonian FA, since 2012, has decided to commemorate Evald Tipner by renaming the Estonian Cup competition after him: EvaldTipneri Karikas, Evald Tipner Cup.

Whether he has scored that historical (own) goal or not it will always be disputed. For sure, it’s a milestone Estonians might go reasonably proud despite the fact it hit the wrong goal.

Before tonight, the precedents have been equally shared among the two countries when comes to venue: 7 times in Estonia and 7 times in Sweden.

Tallinn has always been the favourite location for the Estonian side whereas Sweden brought the game also to the cities of Norrköpings (1927) Landskrona (1929) and Sandviken (1931). It will be the 5th game held in Stockholm.

Kick-off at 20:45 Estonian time in Friends Arena. Live broadcast within the territory of Estonia from ETV2, the second channel of Estonian public TV. Streaming available here.

(***)In a later chat with Estonian football historian, Indrek Schwede (editor in chief of the country only football magazine, 'Jalka') he confirmed me that the goal was an own goal by Tipner. 'He was trying to throw back the ball with his hand' explained me Indrek in the interval of the game at Friends Arena 'and the ball slipped from his hand into the goal'. The game was also characterized by Leonhard Kass goal from corner kick (the first at a WC qualifier) and an own goal by another Estonian player with his first.