Published on Monday, 19 January 2015

news 20150119Martin REIM: "Buffon is just behind my back? I really need to start training again and get my place in national back!"

Head coach of U-21 national team of Estonia Martin Reim despite his modest height is a significant person not only within Estionian but European football. It was Reim, who 17 years in a row was a playmaker and a constructor of the game for national team of Estonia – and for this enormously long-lasting period he collected 157 matches for the national. Under this criteria Martin is among the great third of the best football players of the continent and among the great twelve of the best ones in the world. Only Vitaly Astafiev from Latvia (165 matches) and a known goalkeeper Iker Casillas (160) were managed to overtake him.

– More than 17 years in national team! Martin, what is your secret? How did you manage to do so?

– I am just fond of football just as my father. He is a real fan and my first coach. He taught me to follow sport regime. I liked not only to play but to train and prepare for a big game. Moreover, I can say I am a lucky one – not a single serious injury for 20 years of my playing career.

reim 01– An interesting thing: 8 players of national team of Estonia from 90s till current time were managed to overcome a prestigious border – 100 matches. For example, in USSR only Victor Onopko and Sergey Ignashevich accomplished the same. There are two variants I propose to choose Estonian records men: all eight of national team long-livers are an extra-talented professionals or there was no tough competition that time?

– Both of your variants are so right. For a long time the range of players for national team was not very wide, especially in 90s. However, guys you've mentioned (and others also) never took it for granted and respected the honor to play for the country. We gave all our powers to national team... And look – there were 6 or 7 coaches but all of them invited Poom, Kristal, Oper, Viikmae, Zelinski, Piiroja, Yaager and me...

– You are a true monogamy football player – 16 (!) years for the one and only team – Tallinn Flora. Still, in 90s you took a break and moved to play to Finland...

– About half a year I've played for football club from Kotka. We managed to reach the final of Cup of Finland.

– Why did you go back to Tallinn so soon if you succeeded in Finnish football?

reim 02– Two circumstances has crossed: Finnish team got in financial troubles while I received an interesting proposal from my homeland. They were quite persuasive calling me back to help new coach of a club and a national team of Estonia Arno Pijpers. At the end I took it and got back to Flora to become country's Champion for three times.

– Do you regret you didn't play in a more high foreign level? Your skills were perfectly matching it.

– Maybe just a little. Seems I got late to the level of stable play in club and national team to be invited to famous clubs. Players of that age are not really bothering football elite. Still, I have nothing to complain about. Destiny gave me fantastically long lasting career in a beloved football and I am really thankful. Now I am trying to coach. I've worked with Flora for three years, and it is my third year I tutoring Estonian U-21. These are completely different things – club and national team. When I teach youth I study as well.

– Do you enjoy being a coach?

– Of course, when we win (laughs). Frankly saying it is quite useful to defeat. It helps to gain right experience.

– Coach Reim – who is he? A dictator or a democrat? Your great experience and authority pushes reim 03on youth, isn't it?

– I love being with guys. I always try to help them think in football. I trust them. Now we witness a great spur in Estonian football development. If earlier any talented junior was invited to national staff, now we do have a competition. I have an interesting job.

– You also have your own football school of Martin Reim.

– Yes, in Viimsi, next to Tallinn. It is not small, last year we had around 300 guys, this year the amount exceeded to 350. My father helps me to coach. All the boys are so passionate on trainings and we also have a class for girls – they do enjoy football just the same.

– What about the heirs of Martin Reim?

– I have two girls. Lorelei is 12 years old and she plays also sometimes (smiles). Besides football she likes to sing. I am not a tough dad I would never make her do something specific. She is the one to chose. The second daughter – Lizelei – is a newborn baby, she is 10 month. Concerns added, but they are so joyful!

reim 04– Martin, we wish you to remain in the prestigious third of the main European long-livers of national teams. But do you know that a known Italian Buffon is right behind you?

– Buffon? How many matches does he have?! 146? Oh, I really need to start training again and get my place in national back!

Interviewed by Alexander Kuzmin.


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