Name: Mart Poom
Day of birth: 03.02.1972
Born: Tallinn, Estonia
Height: 6”5’ (194 cm)
Clubs: Lõvid Tallinn (EST), Sport Tallinn (EST), FC Flora Tallinn(EST), Kuopio Palloseura (FIN), FC Will (SUI), FC Portsmouth (ENG), Derby County FC (ENG), S u n d e r l a n d A F C (ENG), Arsenal FC (ENG), Watford FC (ENG)
Debut in the Estonian national team: 03.06.1992 vs. Slovenia
Last competitive match: 10.06.2009 vs. Portugal
Played for Estonia: 120 times
Played for SAFC: 68 times (1 goal)
Achievements: Estonian Player of the Year 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003; 2nd in Estonian Championships 1992/93, 1995/96,
Derby County Player of the Year 1999/2000
Family: Wife Lissel and sons Markus, Andreas & Patrick
Mart Poom is one of the most famous Estonians. He has his very special part in the Estonian football history. Mart has taken part in the process we could call ‘The Renaissance of Estonian National Football’, starting in the 80ies as a teenager-keeper in schoolboys’ team “Lõvid” (Lions) and developing over years next to the best keepers of the world.
Mart has said, that he was keeper from first training. He became a member of “Lions” and this team became very popular during these days – young Estonians showed that they can play football in high level. In different tournaments in the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, the United States and Germany they received trophies, although they were younger than their opponents. “We had a naïve dream to play together and forever for a team “Lions”” remembers Poom. But this dream crashed soon…
“Lions” ended up very shortly. Coach Roman Ubakivi started as a manager of “Sport Tallinn”, in Division II of the Soviet Union Football League and took the best players of “Lions” (including 17-year old Mart) with him. So Mart missed the Junior-class football but the pressure of higher level football had a positive influence on him. “Will was the main reason” says Mart ”I think it was good, that I was younger than the others and did additional training by myself. When I was 16, I ran and lifted a bar bell during my free time. In the mornings before my school-day, from 7 A.M. I was bustling in gym.”
On June 3rd 1992 the Estonian national football team played their first post-occupational match – in Tallinn against Slovenia. 20 years old Mart was in goal, and starting from this game he has been Estonian first-choice keeper for more than 10 years. Estonian football team was in a quite pathetic state at the beginning of the 90ies. So Mart had a lot of chances to impress opponent sides and their managers. It was only question of time until some of the ‘big clubs’ hired him.
After spells in Finland, Swiss and Portsmouth Mart Poom finally arrived at Derby County FC towards the end of the 96/97 season for £500,000. Hours after signing for the Rams from FC Flora, Mart was jetting off to Scotland to gain his 50th cap.
His debut for Rams in a win game against Manchester United at Old Trafford was memorable. Derby won 3-2. Performances at the beginning of the 1997/98 campaign confirmed him as one of the top keepers in the Premiership, but excellent performances from Russell Hoult in 98/99 left Mart on the bench.
Despite a wrist injury in the early part of the 99-00 season, Poom showed excellent form – pulling out match-winning saves in a difficult season for Derby County. Poom was voted overwhelmingly as the millennium season Player of the Year after he polled 62% of the vote.
The ‘keeper continued his superb form in the 2000/01 season finishing second in the 2000/01 Player of the Year awards before the injury-hit campaign of the following year. Season 2001/02 was terrible for Mart and for Derby County – Mart was hit by injuries and Derby was relegated to the first division.
Before season 2002/03 there were a lot of transfer rumours over Mart Poom leaving Derby County. The only official approach was made by Everton (£4 000,000), but Derby rejected the offer. So Mart started the season 2002/03 in the first division. But Derby’s poor financial situation and Sunderland AFC goalkeepers’ injury crisis caused the situation that Mart Poom arrived to the Stadium of Light initially on loan in November 2002 and made a permanent move in January 2003 (£2.5m).
During his football career Mart has had several injuries, some of them were quite strange. Most extraordinary injury what Mart has had, happened in July 1st 2000, when he received a blow to the cheek bone as he played in a charity match for his former club Tallinn FC Flora against the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Match ended 6-1 for FC Flora and Mart (playing as goalkeeper) was even in the scoreboard, but the final result was quite sad and Mart has said that he learned a lot from this accident.
In games Mart tries to stay always positive and avoid becoming angry. “Anger generates negative energy, goalkeeper needs positive energy” says Mart “On match-day, after the morning training I’m trying to get some sleep. Then I’m going to generate a different game situations in my mind. In every situation I feature myself dealing 100% correctly, as thousands of times before in training”
Mart is having his personal training diary over ten years “There is no progress without analysis. After games I do statistics. I draw up a defeated goal, analyze what I did wrong and put myself a mark, usually 3 of 5. The only game element I think I’m confident in is run-outs.” is Mart self-critical. ”From video I watch top players and myself playing, also it’s necessary to learn how strikers are dealing with the ball – some of them like to hit on a goal from distance, some of them try to get past keeper”
Mart’s boyhood heroes were Tony Schumacher, Jean-Marie Pfaff and Peter Shilton, nowadays is his greatest model Peter Schmeichel. “When Peter was in his prime with Manchester United I think he was definitely the best goalkeeper in the world.” has Mart said in interview for safc.com.
Mart himself has getting also some acceptance from his fans, specially from Estonian football fans, but he was also the fans’ favourite in his time with Derby County. At these times he became probably “most boo’ed player in the game”, as opposite fans often didn’t belive their eyes and ears seeing home crowds booing their goalie. POOOOOOOOOOM chant remained popular also at Mart’s times at Stadium of Light.
Mart signed for SAFC at 2002/3 relegation season and was helpless to resist Sunderland relegation course. In Championship he became soon a crowds favorite mainly because of THE GOAL he scored against his old club Derby County on 20th September 2003. Nicknamed as ‘Poominator’ by legendary Simon Crabtree he had great season under Mick McCarthy’s side. Sunderland reached to the FA Cup Semi-final and nearly missed promotion to the Premier League.
At season 2004/05 Mart was hit by injuries, but played his part helping Sunderland to win Championship. Next season he was loaned out to Arsenal in a deal which turned permanent next year.
His time at Arsenal and (from season 2007/08) at Watford FC was mixed with injuries and so it was time for Mart to retire at year 2009. He made it in style as he kept clean sheet in a Estonian international friendly game against Portugal.
After retirement as a player he concentrated on his job as goalkeeping coach for Arsenal and Estonian football teams. He is also working for different football education projects in Estonia. Mart Poom has said “Football has gave me a lot, so I want to give it back one day”.
This day has arrived.