Eesti / Estonia
- Capital: Tallinn
- Official Languages: Estonian
- Nicknames: Sinisärgid (Blueshirts)
- Association: Eesti Jalgpalli Liit (EJL)
- FIFA Code: EST
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Euros Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best Euros Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 47th (March 2012)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 71st (December 2013)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 137th (October 2008)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 99th (March 2019)
- Most Capped Player: Martin Reim – 157 caps
- Top Scorer: Anastassia Morkovkina – 40 goals
The Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik) is situated in the northeast of European football, and is the smallest and most northern of the three countries that make up the ‘Baltic States’. As the name suggests, the country has a Baltic coastline that occupies the west of the country, whilst they share land borders with Latvia to the south, and Russia to the east (with Lake Peipus separating the two countries for a large part of the border). Finland, their closest neighbour linguistically, is situated to the north of Estonia with the Gulf of Finland separating the two countries. It would be Finland who would be Estonia’s first opponents in their international debut in 1920, losing 6-0 to their northern friends, with the country joining FIFA as early as 1923 before being annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.
Estonia regained its independence in 1991 as the USSR was crumbling apart, and became full members of UEFA in the following year, with their first match being a 2-2 friendly against Slovenia. Since its return to international football, the Sinisärgid have yet to qualify for either a World Cup or European Championships. The closest Estonia have come to qualifying for a major tournament came in the qualifiers for Euro 2012 when they finished as runners-up in their group behind group winners Italy, but ahead of such teams as Serbia, Slovenia, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands. They earned themselves a two-legged playoff match against the Republic of Ireland with the winner progressing to the tournament. Alas Estonia’s chances were scuppered in the first leg when they were heavily defeated 4-0 at home to the Irish, and despite a creditable 1-1 draw away in Dublin, they would lose the playoff 5-1 on aggregate.
Sadly it looks unlikely that the Estonians will qualify for a major tournament any time soon. In the 2022 World Cup qualifying, they are in a tough group being the lowest-ranked side in a group containing Belgium, Czechia, Wales and Belarus. Alas, they have started the qualification process poorly having suffered two big defeats to the Czechs and Belarusians respectively. They are also at threat of being relegated from League C of the UEFA Nations League having finished bottom of their group after only drawing three of their six group games. A playoff against Cyprus in March 2022 will confirm whether the Blueshirts will maintain their position in Europe’s third-tier, or will descend to League D and the bottom rung of European international football. However with a seemingly talented generation of young players looking to progress into the national team within the next couple of years, the fortunes of Estonia may improve…
Talking about one of the Baltic states who sadly seem to be going through a tough time in terms of results but came close to qualifying for Euro 2012 is the excellent Twitter account, Estonian Footy. They are an English-language Twitter account that reports on all things involving Estonian football, whether it be from the domestic leagues, Estonian players playing abroad, or the national teams. In addition, they also the official media partner of the Estonian club JK Tallinna Kalev’s English language Twitter account. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @EstonianFooty
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Ragnar Klavan – he is the most successful Estonian player of all time [having played for teams like AZ, Augsburg, Liverpool, and now Cagliari]. Klavan showed that a footballer from Estonia can make a great career.
Tarmo Rüütli – he led the national team to the Euro 2012 play-offs. Rüütli got the best out of the players.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
It’s really hard to choose just one player. Probably one of them: Mart Poom, Andres Oper, Ragnar Klavan, Konstantin Vassiljev. They are all legends.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Estonia currently?
Rauno Sappinen is slowly becoming the star of the team. He is a prolific striker [25 years old and on a long-term loan deal at Slovenian club NK Domžale from Flora Tallinn] who can score against every team.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
Estonia haven’t won a match since March 2019 so the situation is really bad. The national team has a new Swiss manager – Thomas Häberli. There is also a new generation of talented youngsters. I hope the results will improve soon.
Q. Are there any Estonian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
There are many young players who you should focus on for the future! Karl Hein plays at Arsenal U23s [19 year-old goalkeeper], Martin Vetkal plays for AS Roma U19 [17 year-old midfielder], Oliver Jürgens plays for Inter U18s [17 year-old forward] but the most exciting player is Maksim Paskotši. He plays for Spurs U18s. In March, he made his debut for the national team. A very talented centre-back who is just 18 years old.
Q. Looking at Estonia’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
Serbia 1-3 Estonia (October 2010) – It was the begining of someting special! Our road to the Euro 2012 play-offs.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
Germany 8-0 Estonia (June 2019) – This match showed all our weaknesses.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Estonian national team?
The worst thing is that Estonia lose more matches than they win. The best things are the goals and wins.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
No, the supporters only really sing the national anthem.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
My favourite shirt is this one from 2010-2012. It brings back good memories like victories over Serbia, Slovenia or Northern Ireland.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Estonian national team?
I hope that the results will improve and that Estonia will finally win a match. I’m also looking forward to seeing the new generation of talented young players.
A massive tänan teid väga to the Estonian Footy for answering our questions on the Sinisärgid. Remember you can find their social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
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