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Discovering Paide Linnameeskond, Anderlecht’s opponent: “All of Estonia will be behind them”

But who is Paide Linnameeskond, the Estonian opponent of RSC Anderlecht? Even in the country, it is not the best known club. Presentation of this little European Tom Thumb, with the Estonian Football Podcast team.

L’Estonian Football Podcast is one of the few pages covering Estonian football news on Twitter, Instagram and via podcasts on Spotify and iTunes. A joke between friends became very serious, therefore. “We went to Tallinn in 2018 for a holiday trip and toured the stadiums. Then on returning to England we kept an eye on Estonian football. In 2020, during the lockdown, we decided to fill our days by following the championship more closely, and here we are today”, explains one of the admin of the EFP.

A perfect interlocutor, therefore, to analyze the future opponent of RSC Anderlecht: Paide Linnameeskond. The club of the very small town of Paide is indeed unknown to us.

A recent club

“Paide is quite new by footballing standards. The club was founded in 2004, climbed through the Estonian leagues very quickly and was promoted to D1 in 2009. They became an established D1 club, usually finishing around from 5th or 6th place”, explains our interlocutor. Paide then took on another dimension. “Over the past 4 years, however, they have become part of what is called the ‘big 4’ in Estonia. They finished 2nd in 2020, their record, and won the Estonian Cup, their first trophy.”

A Gambian partnership, many young people and…Sanneh’s brother

What about Paide’s philosophy? Apparently, she might like the RSCA. “Their philosophy is quite hybrid, but they have an excellent formation of young people: their U21 team is third in Estonian D2. The players come and go between the A team and the U21 over the course of the season”, explains the EFP. Comparable, therefore, to what could be done in the Pro League.



© photonews

But alongside players who have come from Estonia to strengthen the club, a project has been launched: the “Gambian project”, as our interlocutor calls it. “Young players are coming from The Gambia and getting into Europe via Paide. There are currently four of them. They too come and go between the A’s and the U21s. You could say they’re a success.” One of them, who did not enjoy success and left the club, was a certain Muhammad Sanneh, brother of the ex-Anderlechtois Bubacarr Sanneh.

A star in the workforce

But in addition to young people and his Gambians, Paide Linnameeskond can count on a superstar on an Estonian scale: Ragnar Klavan (36 years). The former Liverpool defender is the player with the most Estonian Footballer of the Year titles (7 times), and played for Liverpool from 2016 to 2019 after breaking through in Augsburg, in the Bundesliga. Always lined up on occasion in Serie A with Cagliari, he finally returned to Estonia last summer. “His presence made Paide Linnameeskond even more popular. He brought Liverpool fans with him,” we are told. And this despite a sporadic presence on the ground.


ragnar klavan

A rather disappointing season in the league

The Estonian league (Premium Liiga) is off to a good start, with 19 rounds already up. And at the moment, Paide is only 4th in D1. 23 points from the lead, and 18 points from second place last year. “I think both the club and the fans regard this as a disappointment, because there was optimism at the start of the season with new coach Karel Voolaid. But the sauce has not yet taken hold in the league”. Voolaid, a former Paide player, had coached the Estonian national team before. “We predicted a late push to the top of the league from Paide, but it’s clear that they are far from it,” admits the Estonian Football Podcast.

A miraculous European campaign

In Europe, on the other hand, it is a feat to have arrived so far. “Paide had never won a single European game before beating Dinamo Tbilisi, so to see them go through two rounds is a big success, and even a surprise. The Estonians were instead betting on Flora and Levadia to get European successes this season”. the Flora Tallinn played in the Conference League groups last season, notably crossing paths with La Gantoise.


flora tallinn

The Flora, moreover, is often seen as a somewhat “privileged” club in Estonia due to its undeniable status as the biggest club in the country. “Football in Estonia is improving. It’s quite physical, with some technically good players. But a lot of clubs in Estonia are suffering financially from the way the EJL (league) is run. There’s this feeling that everything is done to benefit a single club”, we regret.

All of Estonia behind them and a game at the Federal Stadium

Result: the public will be behind the Paide Linnameeskond. “They will have all of Estonia behind them. It’s a club that nobody dislikes, unlike other big clubs. Everyone will want to see them succeed. They themselves have nothing to lose and know it. They will try to make the match as difficult as possible for Anderlecht”. However, this will not be in Paide itself, a small town of 9,000 inhabitants with a dilapidated stadium. “The club is currently building a stadium that will meet UEFA standards,” said the EFP.

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