Ragnar Klavan was delighted to see that news of his Dutch title success with AZ Alkmaar was greeted with such passion in his native Estonia, saying: "If you go by the reaction of the newspapers, this is a historic success for my country."
The 23-year-old left-back started the season with Heracles Almelo, the Dutch side he joined in 2005, bidding to do little more than avoid relegation. However, a loan move to AZ in the winter thrusted him into the title fray, and he has now committed to a four-year contract with the Alkmaar side and will be hoping to play in the UEFA Champions League group stage with them next season. "I will try more than 100 per cent," he said. "Anything is possible. The Champions League is a great tournament to show your real class, both for me and for the club."
Klavan was reminded of his hero status at Heracles when he returned there to watch AZ in action in the spring. "They gave me a real welcome," he said. "I am not usually a guy who goes to stadiums to watch but I was there three-and-a-half years." He is beginning to enjoy a similar following at AZ, with the occasional Estonian flag appearing in the stands to greet him. "I love it when the fans call my name," he said. "I did not expect to settle in so quickly. There have been no problems at all."
The 55-times capped international has made 12 appearances in the spring for AZ and was in the midst of the celebrations after PSV Eindhoven's 6-2 win against AFC Ajax handed Louis van Gaal's side the title the day after their disappointing 2-1 home loss to BV Vitesse. "A home defeat is always painful," he recalled. "We were gearing up to celebrate after the Vitesse match but were very dissappointed. We had to wait until the next day, when our rivals was playing. It didn't make much difference − first place is still first place."
Van Gaal's presence has impressed the former JK Tulevik Viljandi trainee enormously − "he is a great master, everybody respects him" − as did the Estonian reaction to AZ's success. "If you go by the reaction of the newspapers, this is a historic success for my country," he said. "I am glad that I have brought joy to my country." However, he ruled out bringing the Eredivisie trophy back to his home town, saying: "I would love to take the trophy to Viljandi but I really don't think they will let me."
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