Widely regarded as the best Estonian player in history, goalkeeper Mart Poom has announced that he will retire from professional football on 10 June when he could win his 120th cap in his side's friendly game against Portugal.
"It is a sad but also liberating day for me," said the 37-year-old, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. "The decision did not come easily, but it has now been made. Many wonder why I'm quitting when I've just come back from one of the most serious injuries of my career. My contract with Watford was terminated and I could have possibly played a couple of more seasons in England, but I have become a member of Arsenal's coaching staff in recent months and have decided it is time to change profession."
Poom, whose last competitive game was Watford's league match against Reading FC on 20 September, will take on a new role coaching Arsenal's goalkeepers. "My family and I intend to return to Estonia in the future but I can finish my coaching courses in England," added the custodian, who also represented FC Flora, Portsmouth FC, Derby County FC, Sunderland AFC and Arsenal. "Setting up my own football school in Estonia will be a project for the very near future." Estonia coach Tarmo Rüütli has promised Poom a place in the starting line-up against Portugal on 10 June in front of FIFA President Joseph Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.
Of all the highlights in his 17-year career, Poom recalls his only league goal with particular fondness. Then at Sunderland, the goalkeeper ran into the opposing penalty area for a late corner and headed in an equaliser for Mick McCarthy's side in the 1-1 draw at former-club Derby. The goal inspired a local brewery to produce a special commemorative beer called 'Poominator Ale'. "This game will always remain in my heart as a very special one," said Poom. "Not only for the goal, but also for the return to Derby where I played six Premier League seasons."
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