Published: Tuesday, 10 January 2017 19:37

Martin Reim, the Head Coach of National team of Estonia: “I can barely name a coach who wouldn’t like to have a choice of good players”

It’s a pleasure to see good old friends here on the traditional Granatkin Memorial taking place in St. Petersburg. And it’s especially pleasant to congratulate some of the friends with promotion, if such an event happened in their life over the last calendar year.

Year 2016 turned out to be very important and rich on responsible and positive events for sociable and smiling 45-year-old Martin Reim. Past September the distinguished Estonian footballer who holds a record of number of matches played for the National team of Estonia (157 matches!) was given an honor to head this team for the first time. In other words, if earlier Reim was coming to St. Petersburg as a participant of the Granatkin Memorial bringing youth teams of Estonia, then this year he arrived here as an honorable guest of the tournament. Martin is now watching matches from the stands, rather than the side of the pitch.

– On behalf of the entire Granatkin Memorial press-center, please let me congratulate you, Martin, on a new position of the Head Coach of the National team of Estonia.

Thank you very much.

– Do I get it right that Aivar Pohlak, the President of the Estonian Football Association, made up his mind to radically change the coaching staff of Estonian team after it suffered a heavy defeat (0:5) in its first World Cup 2018 Qualifiers match in early September?

– Yes, our team unfortunately had an unsuccessful match, and the head of the Estonian Football Association decided to make changes in its management. Magnus Pehrsson had been managing the team for over three years. This is a very professional coach, and he left me a good heritage of a number of good coaching work components. The players remained the same as there’s nowhere we can get newcomers (smiling). Only about two-three players joined the squad. But some certain nuances in coaching had to be changed.

– The Estonian National team has had the same leaders for a very long time already – defender Ragnar Klavan, midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev…  On one hand, it’s easy to work with the players who you know well. But, on the other hand, isn’t it a bit sad that there’s no worthy change for the veterans?

– You’re right. The leaders of our team are true professionals and very experienced players. But I can barely name a coach who wouldn’t like to have a choice of good players. It’s a pity, but we don’t have such a choice in Estonia yet. So I came to the so familiar city of St. Petersburg with a certain degree of hope to watch matches with young Estonian footballers. Our key players cannot perform forever, and at some point they will need to finish their career, indeed.

– How worrying have the first months been for you on a new position? Wasn’t the big sense of responsibility as a Head Coach of the National team pressuring you? Were you sleeping well before the first home match Estonia – Gibraltar?

– In fact, I had a good night sleep. But I felt some tension right before the match. Everyone in Estonia was expecting only a win from us – the bigger the score the better.

– You had a great debut – a 4:0 victory for Estonia. But the next home match turned out to be unsuccessful as you conceded a goal on the second minute and eventually lost 0:2 to Greece, even though your team was attacking a lot.

– You’re right. It was that case when a coach is happy with a game, but not with a final result. We were indeed playing very well and creating good chances, but unfortunately were unable to score. As for the defense, we failed to sort out our problems. Some players did not do what I asked them to in the opposing set piece moment on the second minute. Our play on corners and other set pieces has been a problem for us for a long time…

– And then there was a very unpleasant day for all the fans of the National team of Estonia – November 13th. This “baker's dozen” appeared to be the eight goals conceded for your team in Brussels. Belgium is really full of star players now, but 8:1 seems to be too much…

– We wanted to make a surprise for such a qualified team as Belgium. We decided to take a risk and to focus on attacking activities. As a result, we did make a surprise, but not the one we were planning… Belgium is really strong now. When you play against such a high-class opponent, you just have to be lucky a bit, but it was completely the opposite in Brussels. Can you imagine that they had nine shot on goal and scored eight times! (“Which happened with three rebounds and one own goal” – Andres Oper, Assistant Coach and the top goal-scorer in the Estonian football, sadly added).

– Martin, I wish you and your coaching staff successful matches in 2017. What are the nearest plans? You have an upcoming match with Cyprus in March, right?

– That’s right. It will be on March 25th. We shall gather for the pre-match training camp on the 19th to start intense preparations. I’m watching potential candidates now. I sincerely hope that over time we’ll have a group of players joining the National team from this youth squad that is gaining experience of international matches here on the tournament in St. Petersburg.  

– What’s the duration of your contract?

– We had a detailed discussion about this moment with Aivar Pohlak, the President of the Estonian Football Association. I told that it would be preferable and calmer for me to work having a contract terminating with the end of the Qualifiers. And we accepted this option.

– How is the Martin Reim football school progressing in the city of Viimsi?

– Thank you, everything’s good. We’re working in a usual mode. Four hundred youngsters are learning football in our school coached by twelve specialists. After I agreed to head the National team, I spend less time in my school, but believe me, I still have the entire working process under my control (smiling).


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Copyright 2011 Мемориал Валентина Гранаткина / Valentin Granatkin Memorial - Martin Reim, the Head Coach of National team of Estonia.
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