The Estonian Football Association (EJL) celebrated its 90th anniversary with a ceremony and awards presentation at the Estonian National Opera in Tallinn on Sunday – with UEFA President Michel Platini sending greetings via a video message.
Mr Platini's message to the Estonian football family was one of the main events of the evening. "Dear Aivar [Pohlak, EJL president], dear friends of the Estonian Football Association," he said. "Unfortunately I cannot be with you in person at tonight's gala dinner to celebrate your 90th anniversary. But I have no doubt that it will be a great occasion – and of course I will be there with you in spirit.
"Congratulations, therefore, to you on reaching 90 years of Estonian footballing history," Mr Platini added. "We look forward to another even bigger party in ten years' time when you reach 100 years! Congratulations also on your great achievement in reaching the EURO 2012 play-offs." A splendid qualifying campaign saw Estonia finish second behind Italy in Group C before their adventure ended in the play-offs against the Republic of Ireland last week.
Estonia became a UEFA member in 1992. Aivar Pohlak recently explained to UEFA.com that the EJL was founded on 14 December 1921, but also recalled that Estonian football is actually ten years older. He reflected that the last 20 years have been the most important period in the association's history. "If you would ask me to mark out a concrete event, it would definitely be our progress to the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs," he said. "All of the country and nation welcomed this warmly, and started to speak about football much more than before. I think we can be glad with the results we have achieved."
The EJL president underlined the role of UEFA in Estonia's modern football development. "We highly appreciate how UEFA treat us, they are very good to us," he said. "European football's governing body allows us to share our opinions and always lends an attentive ear to what we say. The current UEFA leaders have created a wonderful atmosphere of a big European football family. It's the most important thing. And we feel ourselves as equal members of this family."
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