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Estonian prospect thriving in foreign climes

Published: Thursday 28 May 2009, 11.00CET
He may have only just turned 18 but after catching the eye with 12 goals for Derby County FC's reserve side, Estonian Henrik Ojamaa says he hopes he will not "have to wait too long before receiving an international call-up".
by Mikhail Malkin
from Tallinn
Estonian prospect thriving in foreign climes
Derby striker Henrik Ojamaa ©Nikolai Lamakh
Published: Thursday 28 May 2009, 11.00CET

Estonian prospect thriving in foreign climes

He may have only just turned 18 but after catching the eye with 12 goals for Derby County FC's reserve side, Estonian Henrik Ojamaa says he hopes he will not "have to wait too long before receiving an international call-up".

Originally a defender, it was the step up in Henrik Ojamaa's play as he advanced upfield that alerted his youth coaches to the fact he may be more comfortable further up the pitch. He was remodelled as a striker and, now 18, an impressive campaign with Derby County FC's reserve side in England has really caught the eye in Ojamaa's native Estonia.

Chelsea trial
As he celebrated his 18th birthday last Wednesday, Ojamaa could have been forgiven for pondering where he might find himself in 12 months time. A product of FC Flora Tallinn's youth system, he caught international attention while on duty for Estonia Under-17s and when Chelsea FC passed up the chance to sign him following a trial, he was snapped up by Derby in July 2007. Two years on and it looks like a good decision – for both parties. "I was delighted with the chance to come to England," said Ojamaa. "I have enjoyed everything about being here and the club have been pleased with me. If I can prove myself I will break into the first team."

Academy accolade
He may not be too far away. A regular for the Rams' second string this season, the youngster thrived either as an out-and-out striker or in a deeper role, ending the campaign with 12 goals and the Academy Player of the Year award. "I scored a lot because other players provided me with opportunities to do so, but I should have scored few more," said Ojamaa, adding that given his recent birthday it is "just a matter of time" before he signs professional terms at Pride Park". "My next step is to train with the first team and work hard to assert myself in the squad," he said.

International ambition
Should he do so then full international honours may be just around the corner, and he is already catching the eye in Estonia. "I train hard in England and play to quite a high standard," said Ojamaa. "I hope it won't go unnoticed so I don't have to wait too long before receiving a call to the national team. I'm looking forward to it." When the forward does make the step up – for him it is inevitable – his junior trainers may raise a smile. "For some time I played as a centre-back, but then my coaches noticed that I like to come forward, tended to beat opponents in one-on-ones and scored goals, so I ended up in the front line. I scored more then 20 goals in my first season."

Last updated: 30/01/12 18.36CET

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