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When I started to live in Estonia and I stepped in one of the many newsagents embedded in the country’s department stores, my first thought was obviously to look at the football periodicals available.
Compared to my home country, where the offer is ample and almost for all tastes, I did not have many choices. It was March and the season was about to kick off and the one and only publication available was ‘Eesti Jalgpalli 2005’.
My knowledge of Estonian language did not go beyond ‘Good morning’ and ‘Goodbye’ and only years after, I could read and understand the header: ‘Esimene Jalgpallikiri Eestis’ – the first football magazine in Estonia.
It was actually the first and last as, what has been resting in one of my drawers for the last 9 years, it was the last effort from Indrek Petersoo (press officer at Levadia) and Igor Saveljev. The first issue was published in 1998 to be repeated for 7 football seasons in a row.
After a 9-year sleep ‘Eesti Jalgpall’ has woken up.
The importance of publications as such goes beyond the contingency.
It is obviously a valid tool for fans, journalists and football passionates to have a quick access to players’ and clubs’ information (the magazine will be also distributed abroad, among others in UK).
However, the historical value of such a publication grabbed my attention as I pulled out the old 2005 copy and started to browse it.
Having a look at how the Meistriliiga was composed 9 years ago, it was a walk down memory lane in the light of how Premium Liiga and squads look like today (check the above gallery with all my findings).
Levadia lining up Tarmo Rüütli (former Estonian National Team coach and currently in Kazakhstan) as head coach and Igor Prins (Nõmme Kalju) as assistant coach featuring Kostantin Vassiljev (Amkar Perm, RUS) as the ‘hot item on sale’ on the 2005 transfer market.
The defunct TVMK of entrepreneur Piotr Sedin, with Sergei Ratnikov (Sillamäe) as skipper and a striking duo as Ingemar Teever (Levadia) and Tarmo Neemelo (Kalju).
TVMK would have become Champions that season, the only Meistriliiga title along with two cups and two supercups before going bankrupt in 2008.
Flora starring a front row with Martin Reim (still playing) Janno Kivisild (Eesti Koondis assistant coach) as head coach and Marko Kristal (Levadia) as fresh assistant coach.
In 10 years time, a similar ‘history trip’ might have the owner of one of the brand new ‘Eesti Jalgpalli 2014’ copies presented last week by Indrek Petersoo at ‘Must Pudel Baar’
It is a 66-page thick magazine lining up all the 10 Premium Liiga clubs following the final 2013 table standings.
Esiliiga-A clubs section follows the top flight.
In between the two sections, an interesting centrefold with two posters.
The first one, is a full calendar of the World Cup in Brazil: you can basically pull it out and hang it somewhere while updating it throughout all the competition.
The second one features football ladies (South Alabama Jaguars’ Tiina Trutsi, Pärnu’s Kairi Himanen, Kaire Palmaru and Anete Paulus and Levadia’s Viktoria Viil) wearing special women football outfits designed by former international Ave Paju.
Before these main highlights, the magazine offers an interesting interview with Marko Kristal. The Levadia’s skipper, depicted in the cover with little son Patrik, talks broadly about football in Estonia: from the improvement of training conditions thanks to the new indoor hall to Levadia’s ambitions for 2014.
In the bottom part we have an interesting ‘Foreign Players Best XI’ giving us what would be, according to the editing team led by Margus Luik (author of the essential ‘100 Years – Estonian Football’ historical and statistical book edited for the Estonian FA jubilee), the combo of foreign players that have inhabited the country’s top-flight football.
The present day Levadia goalkeeper, Roman Smiśko and Nõmme Kalju’s Hidetoshi Wakui and Allan Kimbaloula, are featuring as contemporary footballers.
However, we could not help noticing that one name is missing from both the starting XI and the substitutions bench: Aleksandrs Cekulajevs.
The Latvian striker detains the record for most nettings in one season, 46 in 35 games. During the summer of 2011, and before the big continental leagues started, he was topping the Golden Boot table.
However, the authors were aware their choice would have created noise: ‘it’s obvious’ they state at start of the last paragraph explaining the strikers choice ‘our choice of strikers will stir controversy’.
The reason of their choice we leave the reader to discover.
Similar to 2005 issue, the magazine offers an outlook of ‘footballers to follow’ for 2014: Levadia and Finland’s U-21 midfielder Jere Aallikko and his teammate Pavel Marin; Flora’s young prospects Kevin Aloe and Herol Riiberg; Nõmme Kalju’s Mihkel Ainsalu and Henrik Pürg; FC Infonent defender Vladimir Avilov and Tammeka’s Rasmus Tauts.
The closing pages are dedicated to women football (an outlook to Naiste Meistrilliga and a long interview to Pärnu JK coach Jüri Saar) and a history piece about 1934 championship by referee Heigo Niilop.
Compared to the 2005 issue, the design and graphics are completely different, refreshed and up to the state of the art in football publishing.
At first glance and browse, ‘Eesti Jalgpalli 2014’ does really look like any major football magazine supplying a start-of-season guide. The editing team intentions were fully met under this point of view.
The Premium Liga clubs profiles are enriched with formation/line-up info graphics and a performance graph over the past 10 years in the top-flight.
A facts and records sheet has been added at the expenses of the kit samples and the grounds’ pictures and information featuring in 2005.
Players’ info include: shirt number (if available), name, nationality, date of birth, height/weight, past clubs, appearances/goals in Premium Liiga and in national teams selections if any.
The Panini-stickers effect when in 10 years anyone of you will pull it out from the drawer only to discover that player A was playing in club X, it is included in the 5€ cover price.
On sale in all newsagents across Estonia.