The Estonia national football team (Estonian: Eesti jalgpallikoondis) represents Estonia in international football matches and is controlled by the Estonian Football Association, the governing body for football in Estonia. Estonia's home ground is A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn.
Estonia's first match was held against Finland in 1920, being a 6–0 defeat. The team participated in the 1924 Olympic Games tournament, their only participation. In 1940, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and did not regain independence (and the possibility of a national football team) until 1991. Estonia's first FIFA recognised match as an independent nation after the break-up of the Soviet Union, was against Slovenia on 3 June 1992, a 1–1 draw in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn.
Estonia has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship. The team has however reached the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying play-offs, by finishing second in their qualifying group, before being drawn up against Ireland for a play-off tie, making 2011 the Annus mirabilis of Estonian football.
Estonia has also participated in the local sub-regional Baltic Cup championship, which takes place every two years between the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Estonia has won the Baltic Cup tournament four times—most recently in 2020—which is the least of all three Baltic states.
The record for the most international caps by an international is held by Martin Reim with 157, who held the European record in 2009 until November of that year. The record for most goals is held by Andres Oper with 38.
The Republic of Estonia (1918–1940)
Estonians were introduced to the game of football by English sailors in the first years of the 20th century, when the land was still part of the Russian Empire. The national team was formed after the war of independence (1918–1920). It played its first match on 17 October 1920 in Helsinki, Finland which ended in a 6–0 defeat. The game took place on a grass surface, which was a first for the Estonians. The Estonian Football Association was founded on 14 December 1921 and affiliated with FIFA in 1923 joining Yugoslavia, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Turkey and Uruguay.
Estonia's only participation in a major tournament took place at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Estonians lost their only match in the tournament to the United States 1–0.
The Estonian league season usually lasted from the end of May to September. In 1928 the first Baltic football contest was held involving all three nations, it was held nine times during this period. Four of them were held in Latvia, two in Estonia and three in Lithuania. Estonia was particularly notable for winning the edition of the tournament in 1938. In the crucial meeting between them and Latvia at the Kadrioru Stadium, 2,000 out of the 12,000 spectators were Latvians.
Estonia's first FIFA World Cup qualifying match took place on 11 June 1933 in Stockholm, Sweden. Match ended with a Swedish 6–2 win. This match was also world's first FIFA world cup qualifying match. Since later on Sweden also defeated Lithuania, match between Estonia and Lithuania was cancelled, because Sweden had already won the group.
Estonia's first points in the FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds were gained in 1938, playing the qualification matches in 1937, the third edition of the tournament. At the time teams would play each other once in each group. Estonia were in group one, drawn with Germany, Sweden and Finland. In their first match against Sweden, the team went 2–0 up even before the game reached five minutes of play, only to lose 7–2. This was then followed up with a 1–0 success against Finland in which Richard Kuremaa scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute. Qualification was completed with a 4–1 defeat against Germany, despite a goal from Georg Siimenson taking the teams in at half time with a 1–0 lead for the Estonians. As a result, Estonia failed to qualify for the World Cup.
The team's biggest win came on 26 July 1928 which was a 6–0 success against Lithuania in Tallinn, meanwhile their biggest defeat came on 11 August 1922 which was a 10–2 loss to Finland. Out of the team's head coaches before the Second World War, seven of them were Hungarian with Antal Mally taking this position twice. There were four foreign coaches (three Hungarians and one Austrian), while the first Estonian national team was coached by Albert Vollrat in 1932. Coaches also played for several seasons, who also determined the composition of the football association.
Players were mostly in Tallinn clubs, such as TJK, Sport, Kalev and Tallinn Estonia. The republic's most capped players were goalkeeper Evald Tipner (67) and the outfield players Eugen Einmann (65), Eduard Ellman-Eelma (58) and Karl-Rudolf Silberg-Sillak (52). Top goal scorers were Ellman-Eelma (21 goals in 65 matches), Richard Kuremaa (18/42), Arnold Pihlak (17/44), Georg Siimenson (14/42) and Friedrich Karm (9/13). Players received small pay for their contributions – 5 Estonian krooni in 1938. The Baltic tournament victory was 50 krooni.
On 18 July 1940 the team played their last official game as an independent nation for more than half a century. The game was played at the Kadrioru Stadium and was a 2–1 victory against Latvia.
The occupied years (1940–1991)
After Soviet occupation in August 1940, the national team demised along with the country. During German occupation (1941–1944), the team was revived and they played two unofficial friendlies (in Riga 0–4 and in Tallinn 1–8), but only few players remained from the pre-war era. When Soviet troops invaded Estonia again, some of the best footballers (Richard Kuremaa, Elmar Tepp, Valter Neeris, etc.) were mobilised; some fled to west. Many ex-nationals (Arnold Pihlak, Arnold Laasner, etc.) were in Estonia's team in Geislingen's refugee camp.
The clubs were renamed in the second half of the 1940s and the traditions started to fade. According to Uno Piir, the first national team manager after Estonia's re-independence, the reason for football's downfall in society was the inability to create a competitive Union-level club, hence the decrease in audience and the favouring of other sports by the governing bodies of sports. The Estonian SSR had its representative team, but because of the occupation it did not take part of international competitions. Between 1948 and 1976, the Baltic Cup was held 19 times, which The Belorussian SSR won a few times and the Estonian SSR five times. From 1969 to 1982, Estonia was the only Soviet state not participating in the Soviet Union's football league. During the 1970s, the game lost popularity in Estonia and the sport was mainly played by Russians.
Estonian football-life was relaunched in mid-70s by the attempts of Roman Ubakivi, who formed Estonian-language training groups. The most notable team was Lõvid (English: Lions) in 1980–1989, who were coached by Ubakivi and Olev Reim. Several players, such as Mart Poom and Martin Reim, became part of the national team later. Not a single Estonian reached the Soviet national team, but two Ubakivi's pupils, Ott Mõtsnik and Toomas Krõm, broke into the youth team.
The Singing Revolution, the pursuit to restore Estonian independence and to cool regional tensions, found its way to football as well. On 18 July 1990, an exhibition match was held between Estonian and Latvian footballers at Kadriorg Stadium, to remember the last official match between the two teams as independent nations 50 years previously. The principle of assembling the squad was controversial. 63 players made a public addressing (Päevaleht, 24 April 1990) calling out the football governing bodies to only select the descendants of Estonians, leaving out immigrants who came to Estonia after World War II.
Return to international football, citizenship dispute and apprentice years (1991–1996)
Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991, and then came back to international football when the team debuted in Lithuania's organized Baltic tournament taking place in November. However, the first recognized match did not take place until June 1992 in Tallinn as a friendly against Slovenia (1–1). This historic meeting under the guidance of coach Uno Piir was overseen by a team consisting of Mart Poom, Urmas Hepner, Igor Prins, Urmas Kaljend, Meelis Lindmaa, Toomas Kallaste, Tarmo Linnumäe, Indro Olumets, Martin Reim, Sergei Ratnikov, Risto Kallaste, Viktor Alonen, Urmas Kirs, Marko Kristal and Aleksandr Puštov. Puštov was the scorer of the Estonian goal.
At that time the composition of the squad was influenced by the country's citizenship policy. There were disputes whether the national team should include players who lived in Estonia but had not acquired Estonian citizenship. Most of those players in question were of Russian origin. Approximately four months before the first official match against Slovenia, FC Flora presented the Estonian Football Association (EFA) an ultimatum signed by 25 players which stated that "only those who have acquired Estonian citizenship on the basis of legal continuity should be included in the national team". In July of the same year FIFA gave the right to represent Estonia to 97 non-citizens who were according to EFA born in Estonia and were in the process of acquiring Estonian citizenship. In October the board of EFA made a decision that after the date of 1 April 1993 non-citizens could no more debut in the national team.
The citizenship dispute heated up again in February 1993 when Estonia took part in a three team friendly tournament held in Finland. For the first timeAndrei Borissov and Sergei Bragin were allowed to represent Estonia in the national team. In a statement made on 23 February the government of Estonia urged the Estonian Central Sports Union to "consider manning Estonian sports teams only with Estonian citizens". On 11 March the local press published an open letter in which the signatories accused EFA and the head coach Uno Piir of using four "alien citizens" (Andrei Borissov, Sergei Bragin, Aleksandr Puštov, Sergei Hohlov-Simson) in games and using Russian as the working language of the national team. The signatories also noted that "most of the positions belonging to Estonians (in youth teams) were filled with non-citizens". According to Estonian press the EFA had also misled FIFA because most of those 97 players who had gotten the right to represent Estonia had not actually applied for citizenship.
, non-citizen players
On 5 December 1991 the EFA decided to take part in 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament despite financial difficulties, the poor state of the Kadrioru Stadium and the inexperience of the national team. Estonia ended the qualification tournament in the last place of the group and with record of one goal scored and 27 conceded. The team lost nine games and drew once against Malta.
In the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying tournament the team was coached by Roman Ubakivi. The qualification tournament ended without a single point and a goals record of three scored and 31 against. The biggest defeats came from abroad against Croatia (7–1) and Lithuania (5–0).
From 14 October 1993 to 5 October 1996 Estonia played without a victory for almost three years and by February 1996 the team had sunk to 135 in the FIFA World Rankings. Public interest was at a low. In the autumn of 1994 when Estonia hosted Italy at the Kadrioru Stadium only 3000 people came to watch.
First foreign coach and improved results (1996–2000)
Results improved with the arrival of the newly independent team's first foreign coach, Icelandic Teitur Thordarson. His first victory was achieved at the fifth attempt in October 1996, when they defeated Belarus at the Kadriorg Stadium in a 1998 World Cup qualifier with a goal from Hohlov-Simson. After the victory over the Belarusians, the Estonian team gained infamy on 9 October 1996, when a match against Scotland had to be rescheduled after the Estonian team failed to turn up for the game. For unclear reasons, the match was rescheduled to be played on neutral ground in Monaco after it was agreed at a FIFA meeting in Scotland on 7 November, leading to the rescheduled match to take place on 11 February 1997 ending in a 0–0 draw. Reasons for the original postponement of the game was that the Scottish team trained at the Kadriorg the night before, finding the floodlighting inadequate. This matter was raised with the officials who agreed with their concerns. In protest, the Estonians failed to show up, which kicked off only to be stopped seconds later.
At the end of qualifying, the Estonians finished fifth in a field of six teams on a total of four points ahead of Belarus. This was the first time the Belorussians finished last in a qualifying campaign, and had a weaker goal difference. Estonia scored four goals and conceded sixteen.
Estonia also entered the qualifying tournament for Euro 2000. This time round the Estonians recorded three wins and two draws in their group, with fifteen goals scored and seventeen conceded. The team also found themselves in the same group as Scotland, this time losing 3–2 away but drawing 0–0 at home. The Estonian magazine Sporditäht, placed the 1998 events between the pair in their top ten sporting events. On 31 March 1999 the Estonians defeated Lithuania 2–1 in Vilnius. Estonia remained a theoretical possibility to qualify for their first major tournament. Despite failing to qualify, they still set themselves a then team record of 11 points. Their meeting with Scotland on 8 September 1999 was a 5,000 sell-out at the Kadriorg.
A new stadium and the Dutch period (2000–2007)
Estonia's national team has had four meetings with England
, with the last to date being at Wembley Stadium
on 9 October 2015.
Head coach Teitur Thordarson resigned at the end of 1999, leading the Estonian football association to look for a new coach. They were taken over this time by Tarmo Rüütli (who was replaced by caretaker Aivar Lillevere for two games), who was appointed until autumn 2000, and seen the team through their qualifying group for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. After the departure of Rüütli and Lillevere's two game stint as caretaker manager, the Estonian Football Association made an agreement with Dutchman Arno Pijpers.
Plans were later set by the football association to build a modern football home in Tallinn, which took place in 2000 and construction began outside of the Lilleküla railway line, giving it its original name of the A. Le Coq Arena. The arena opened on 2 June 2001, ahead of their 2002 World Cup qualifying game against the Netherlands (4–2 defeat). The 9,300 tickets on sale for the match sold out within six hours.
Their campaign for 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification, saw two victories over Andorra and two draws with Cyprus, which gave the team a total of eight points in the final table and fourth place with ten goals scored and 26 against, finishing ahead of those two teams. This was later matched in UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying, where they gained two more wins over Andorra and draws with Croatia and Bulgaria. The team's goals record was much more stronger defensively, only conceding six goals in their eight matches while scoring four.
Estonia then most successful tournament came in the qualifying rounds for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, under the supervision of Dutchman and assistant coach of Pijpers Jelle Goes, after Pijpers left the post in 2004. Five wins, two draws and five losses gave them 17 points in their qualification group and fourth place. The team were placed ahead of Latvia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying was not as successful, which seen the team finish sixth in a field of seven teams, only ahead of Andorra who were also the only team they recorded wins against and gained a total of seven points. The Estonian FA shortly parted company with Goes in June 2007.
Rüütli's head coach again and the anniversary year (2008–present)
Estonia – Brazil
at the A. Le Coq Arena. 1–0 win for Brazil, 12 August 2009.
November 2007 saw the approval of a two-year contract for new head coach Tarmo Rüütli, who had overseen the national team in the 1999–2000 season, with this being the last time the team took on an Estonian coach, as Pijpers was the first of three foreign coaches between 2000 and 2007. Rüütli's main task in his second term was to lead the team through the 2010 World Cup qualifying matches. The team showed volatile form in friendly matches during 2008. In September, the Estonians lost 3–2 to Belgium in an away qualifying match, but fell to a low ebb after being beaten 7–0 by Bosnia also on their travels, and fell to an all-time low of 137th place in the FIFA World Rankings. The first home game of the campaign was a 3–0 loss to Spain, the reigning European champions. The team still picked up points during the qualification, which included holding Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey to a 0–0 draw. Further results were a 1–0 win over Armenia, and a 2–2 draw away from home before the campaign was completed with a 2–0 win against the Belgians. The team collected 8 points finishing fifth in a group of six.
2009 was declared the 100th anniversary of Estonian football. The final matches for record cap holder Martin Reim (6 June versus Equatorial Guinea) and long-standing goalkeeper Mart Poom were held (against Portugal on 10 June). Sajandi mäng (English: Match of the Century) was the first ever match versus Brazil, who had arrived in Tallinn as the FIFA World Rankings leaders, and also the five-time world champions, winning 1–0. Much attention was attracted the day after the international friendly, with the Estonian FA announcing that coach Rüütli's contract was to be extended to 2011.
Estonia later achieved one of its most famous victories, winning 3–1 in a 2012 European Championship away qualifier on 8 October 2010 against Serbia then ranked 15th in the FIFA rankings. The match took place four months after the Serbian team had competed in the World Cup.
Media attention came from a 2–2 friendly international result with Bulgaria. Two days before the friendly match, on 11 February 2011, bets were placed by officials regarding the outcome of the match. Suspicion of match manipulation was raised when a Hungarian referee gave four disputable penalties, being equally distributed between the two sides. The same team of officials also took charge of the game the day before, an international friendly involving Latvia and Bolivia which ended 2–1 in favour of the Latvians and had also seen three penalties awarded in the game, which were also all of the goals scored.
The Estonian team got an important victory in their next match, which was on 25 March at the A. Le Coq Arena over Uruguay in a friendly match. Former World Cup winners Uruguay had recently reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and were sitting at 7th place in the FIFA rankings at the time of the 2–0 victory. The captain Raio Piiroja earned his 100th international cap. On 29 March, the good performances continued with a 1–1 home draw against Serbia.
This was followed by a period of poor form, which began with an unofficial friendly game loss to the Basque Country, qualifying defeats to Italy and the Faroe Islands then followed, before a tour of South America saw the team lose to Chile and Uruguay. A 3–0 loss to Turkey in Istanbul then completed their friendly matches cycle before qualifying resumed. However, the Sinisärgid won away from home to Slovenia and at home to Northern Ireland, which lifted the team to 58th in the FIFA rankings, giving them their best position to date. This win completed their group matches in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
The regular qualification phase for the Euro 2012 tournament was completed with a win in the final game away to Northern Ireland. Four days later, Serbia failed to beat Slovenia, thus Estonia entered a qualifying play-off against the Republic of Ireland with the first leg in Tallinn. Estonia lost the home game 0–4 but managed a 1–1 draw abroad. The Euro 2012 qualifying campaign was Estonia's best to date, with 16 points achieved out of a possible 30, and was the closest that Estonia came to qualifying for a major tournament.
On 5 June 2012, Estonia set a record for being the first team to have played all of UEFA fellow 52 members. Two more sides have been added since 2013 as full UEFA members. Estonia has played the 53rd member, Gibraltar, but has not yet taken on the newest member, Kosovo.
On 15 November 2014, Estonia became the first and so far only team to give up a point to San Marino in the European Championship qualifying tournament, when the two sides played to a 0-0 draw in San Marino.
On Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Estonia gained one of the most famous wins in their history as they beat Croatia 3–0 at home in an international friendly.
On 10 June 2021, Estonia won the Baltic Cup for the 4th time, beating Latvia 2–1 at home, and it's the first time after 83 years, since 1938.
Home games are played in Tallinn at the A. Le Coq Arena since 2001, its capacity is about 14,400. The stadium borrows its name from its sponsor A. Le Coq, a major Estonian brewery. The stadium was opened on 2 June 2001, for the sold-out World Cup qualifier versus the Netherlands. This is also Estonia's largest football stadium. A. Le Coq Arena is also the home of FC Flora.
Their previous home ground was the Kadrioru Stadium, which opened in June 1926 with a 3–1 victory over Lithuania. The Kadriorg holds 5,000 seats and in contrast to the A. Le Coq Arena, stages athletics events on a regular basis.
Estonia have also staged friendly matches away from Tallinn in Kohtla-Järve, Kuressaare, Narva, Pärnu, Rakvere, Tartu, Valga and Viljandi.
The kit of the Estonian national team (home games) traditionally consists of a blue shirt, black shorts and white socks, while a change strip (away games), is that of a white shirt, black shorts and blue socks. Before 1996, other colour combinations have been used. The goalkeeper usually wears a yellow jersey, black shorts and yellow socks. The kit design changes every two years to a new one. Since 1997 the team's supplier has been Nike, while between 1992 and 1997 it was supplied by Lotto. Below is a timeline of how the home kit colours have changed through time:
Estonia's main supporters group of that of the Jalgpallihaigla (English: Football Hospital), with over 600 members. The group is committed to "Deal with all of your supporters issues from ticket distribution in a special fans section, and also with the fans as watchdogs for relations with the Estonian Football Association and their clubs". Home games see the group as the most vocal, situated in the Southern section of the A. Le Coq Arena.
A busy away journey took place in October 2007, when at Wembley Stadium for the European championship qualifier with England a crowd of two thousand Estonian fans were in attendance.
A large number of away fans have visited Tallinn. In 1938 which was the decisive meeting of the Baltic Cup tournament hosts and Latvia, a total of 12,000 spectators gathered at the Kadriorg Stadium of which 2,000 Latvians. In 2009 1,700 supporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina were at the A. Le Coq Arena.
On 7 December 2020, Estonia were drawn into 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group E. The matches are scheduled to be played between 24 March 2021 and 16 November 2021.
Updated to match(es) played on 30 March 2021. Source: FIFA
Rules for classification: Tiebreakers
Recent results and upcoming fixtures
Recent results within the last 12 months and upcoming fixtures.
|| Thomas Häberli
|| Norbert Hurt
| Andres Oper
|| Mart Poom
|| Michael Müller
|| Ants Jaakson
|| Kaspar Rõivassepp
|| Helvis Trääder
| Priit Lehismets
| Marius Unt
|| Miko Pupart
The following players were called up for the 2020 Baltic Cup matches against Lithuania and Latvia on 1 and 10 June 2021 and a friendly against Finland on 4 June 2021.
Caps and goals updated as of 10 June 2021, after the match against Latvia.
The following players have been called up to the squad within the last twelve months.
- As of 10 June 2021
- Players in bold are still active with Estonia.
Martin Reim is Estonia's most capped player with 157 caps.
Andres Oper is Estonia's top goalscorer with 38 goals.
FIFA World Cup
- Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
UEFA European Championship
- Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
UEFA Nations League
|UEFA Nations League record
Estonia's only participation in a major tournament was at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Coached by Hungarian Ferenc Kónya, Estonia's participation was limited to a single match in the first round as the team lost 0–1 to the United States, with Andy Straden scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 15th minute. Estonia were also given a penalty and a chance to equalise, but Elmar Kaljot's effort struck the crossbar in the 68th minute. After going out of the tournament, the Estonian team stayed on in Paris for three weeks, playing a friendly match against Ireland, which ended in a 1–3 defeat, and then went to Germany, playing friendly matches against various teams including a 2–2 draw against 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
- First World Cup qualification game: 11 June 1933, Stockholm, Sweden (6–2 loss) (first FIFA World Cup qualification match in history);
- First World Cup victory and also first away win: 19 August 1937, Turku, Finland (1–0);
- First European Championship qualifying game: 4 September 1994, Tallinn, Croatia (2–0 loss);
- First World Cup victory since return to independence: 5 October 1996, Tallinn, Belarus (1–0);
- First European Championship victory: 4 June 1998, Tallinn, Faroe Islands (5–0);
- First away win in the European Championship: 31 March 1999, Vilnius, Lithuania (2–1).
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- ^ "Henri Anier liitus meeste koondisega" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 10 November 2020.
- ^ "Koondisega liitub Martin Miller" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 12 October 2020.
- ^ "Meeste koondise koosseisus toimus mitu sunnitud muudatust" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 5 October 2020.
- ^ "Koondise koosseisus tehti sunnitud muudatusi" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 6 September 2020.
- ^ "Vigastatud Igoneni asendab Kotenko" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 30 August 2020.
- ^ Mamrud, Roberto. "Estonia - Record International Players". RSSSF.
- ^ Schwede, Indrek 2001. Väike jalgpallipiibel. Lk 11–12.