FC Flora, commonly known as Flora Tallinn, or simply as Flora, is an Estonian professional football club based in Tallinn that competes in the Meistriliiga, the top flight of Estonian football. The club's home ground is Lilleküla Stadium.

Full nameFC Flora
Founded10 March 1990; 34 years ago (1990-03-10)
GroundLilleküla Stadium
PresidentPelle Pohlak
Head coachNorbert Hurt
2023Meistriliiga, 1st of 10 (champions)
WebsiteClub website

Formed in 1990, Flora were founding members of the Meistriliiga, and is one of two clubs which have never been relegated from the Estonian top division, along with Narva Trans. Flora is the first and only Estonian football club to have played in the group stage of a UEFA club competition, having achieved this in the 2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League season. Flora have won more trophies than any other club in Estonian football, with 34 titles; a record 15 Meistriliiga titles, eight Estonian Cups and a record 11 Estonian Supercups.[2]

History edit

Early history (1990–2000) edit

Flora was founded on 10 March 1990 by Aivar Pohlak as an effort to revive Estonian football during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The team was mainly based on players from Lõvid youth team. Flora finished their first season in last place and were relegated. The situation changed after the formation of the Meistriliiga in 1992. After 52 years of the Soviet occupation (Estonian SSR), Estonian clubs could once again play for the Estonian League Championship title. Flora finished the inaugural season of the Meistriliiga in fourth place. After the first season, the league was reformed to run from Autumn to Spring. Flora finished the 1992–93 season as runners-up. In 1993, Roman Ubakivi was appointed as manager. One round before the end of the 1993–94 season, Tevalte, who led the Meistriliiga table at the time, was controversially disqualified over allegations of match fixing. The season ended with Flora and Norma both on equal 36 points. Flora won the championship play-off match 5–2 and was awarded their first league title. The club made their European debut in the 1994–95 UEFA Cup, losing to Odense 0–6 on aggregate in the preliminary round. Flora managed to defend the league title in the 1994–95 season and won the 1994–95 Estonian Cup, defeating Lantana-Marlekor 2–0 in the final.[3]

In January 1996, Teitur Thordarson replaced Ubakivi as manager. Disappointing start in the 1995–96 season left the team in second place. Flora finished the 1996–97 season as runners-up once again. In the 1997–98 season, the club won their first league title under Thordarson. Subsequently, the league format was changed and Flora managed win another title in the same calendar year. Flora made their debut in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the 1998–99 season, narrowly losing to Steaua București 4–5 on aggregate in the first qualifying round. The club added another Estonian Cup trophy after defeating Lantana 3–2 in the finals. Since 1999, Meistriliiga adopted the current league format with the season running from Spring to Autumn within a single calendar year. The 1999 season was unsuccessful as Flora placed third. In 2000, Tarmo Rüütli was appointed as manager. Under Rüütli, Flora finished the 2000 season as runners-up, behind Levadia who won the title without a single loss.[3]

New stadium and a new era (2001–2017) edit

Construction around Lilleküla Stadium

In 2001, a new era began for Flora as the club moved to the new Lilleküla Stadium and Rüütli was replaced by Arno Pijpers. Under Pijpers, Flora won three consecutive Meistriliiga titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In the 2003 season, Flora won the league without losing a single league match, extending their unbeaten run from the previous season to 37, while Tor Henning Hamre scored a record 39 goals in a season. Pijpers left Flora in September 2004, before the end of the 2004 season, and was replaced by Janno Kivisild. The team failed to defend the league title for another season, finishing in third place.[3]

The 2005 season was unsuccessful as Flora placed fourth, 26 points behind the league champions TVMK. This was the first time Flora didn't win a Meistriliiga medal since 1992. After the disappointing season, Kivisild was replaced by Pasi Rautiainen. In the 2006–07 UEFA Cup, Flora defeated Lyn Oslo 1–1 on aggregate on away goals in the first qualifying round, before losing to Brøndby 0–4 on aggregate in the second qualifying round. The club finished the 2006 season in third place and placed second in the 2007 season. Flora also suffered their biggest margin of defeat in the Meistriliiga thus far, losing 0–6 to TVMK in 2017.[4] Flora finished the 2008 season as runners-up, behind Levadia once again, despite amassing 91 points and scoring 113 goals. Tarmo Rüütli returned to Flora for the 2009 season, but failed to lead the club to winning the league, placing fourth. Flora were more successful in the Estonian Cup, winning the trophy in 2008 and 2009.[3]

In 2010, Rüütli was replaced by the former Flora player and Estonia national team record cap holder Martin Reim. Under Reim, rejuvenated Flora ended the reign of Levadia who had won the four previous Meistriliiga titles and won the league in the 2010 season. Flora successfully defended their title in the 2011 season and won the 2010–11 Estonian Cup, defeating Narva Trans 2–0 in the final. Flora finished the 2012 season in third place, behind the champions Nõmme Kalju and Levadia. After the season, Reim left the club and was replaced Marko Lelov in December 2012. Lelov won the 2012–13 Estonian Cup, but was sacked in July 2013 after disappointing results in the league. He was replaced by Norbert Hurt, initially as a caretaker, with position being made permanent later. Flora finished the 2013 season in fourth place and placed third in 2014.[3]

In 2015, Flora celebrated their 25th anniversary by winning their 10th league title in the 34th round of the season.[5] The club also won the 2015–16 Estonian Cup, defeating Sillamäe Kalev 3–0 in extra time in the final. In May 2016, Aivar Pohlak resigned from the club's presidency and was succeeded by his son Pelle Pohlak. In the first qualifying round of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League, Flora lost to Lincoln Red Imps 2–3 on aggregate, after which Hurt resigned and was replaced by Argo Arbeiter. Flora finished the disappointing 2016 season in fourth place. Arbeiter was sacked and in January 2017, Arno Pijpers to take over as manager. In the 2017 season, Flora won their 11th Meistriliiga title.[6] In December 2017, it was announced that Pijpers will not continue as manager.

Jürgen Henn era (2018–2023) edit

Lilleküla Stadium preparing to host Flora–Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019

Jürgen Henn was appointed in Pijpers' place in January 2018. Under Henn, Flora won the 2019 Meistriliiga and advanced through the first qualifying round of Europa League, beating Radnički Niš 4–2 on aggregate. Flora faced Eintracht Frankfurt in the second round. The first leg was held in Tallinn and brought a record 8,537 people onto the stands, as Flora narrowly lost 1–2 with Mihkel Ainsalu scoring for Flora. The second round was played in Frankfurt in front of 48,000 people, where Flora lost 1–2. Led by Jürgen Henn, Flora won the 2020 Meistriliiga title and advanced to UEFA Europa League qualifying play-offs, where they lost 1–3 to Dinamo Zagreb on 1 October 2020.

Flora became the first Estonian side to advance to a UEFA club competitions group stage when they beat Shamrock Rovers 5–2 on aggregate to qualify for the 2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League on 26 August 2021,[7] where they were drawn into group B against Gent of Belgium, Partizan of Serbia and Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus.[8] The 2–2 draw away against Anorthosis was the first ever point picked up by an Estonian side in UEFA group stage history, with Rauno Sappinen scoring both goals as Flora came from 2–0 down to earn a point in Cyprus. On match day 5, Flora made more history by beating Partizan 1–0 in Tallinn, thanks to a goal from Martin Miller. This result meant that they became the first ever Estonian side to win a game in a UEFA group stage.

After finishing the 2021 Meistriliiga season as runners-up, FC Flora won their 14th Estonian championship title in the 2022 season, earning 97 points and thus repeating Levadia's 2009 record of most points in a season. Flora lifted their 15th league title in 2023. On 30 November 2023, Jürgen Henn announced he will be stepping down after six years in charge, marking the end of the longest and most successful managerial tenure in Flora's history.[9]

Crest and colours edit

Flora crest features the Greco-Roman goddess Flora, after whom the club is named. The club's colours are green and white, symbolizing growth, purity and honesty.[10]

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors edit

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor Ref
1997–2001 Nike VH Sportmedia [11][12]
2003–2004 Radiolinja
2005–2010 Elisa
2010–2013 KH Energia-Konsult
2014–2020 Tele2
2021– Optibet

Stadium edit

Lilleküla Stadium, December 2021

The club's home ground is the 14,336-seat Lilleküla Stadium. Opened in 2001 and expanded from 2016 to 2018, it is the largest football stadium in Estonia. The Lilleküla Football Complex also includes two grass surface pitches, two artificial turf pitches and an indoor hall. Lilleküla Stadium is located at Jalgpalli 21, Kesklinn, Tallinn.[1]

Flora use Sportland Arena artificial turf, located next to Lilleküla Stadium, for training and home matches during winter and early spring months.[13]

Rivalries edit

The Tallinn Derby edit

Flora's deepest rivalry is with FCI Levadia and the fixture between the two clubs is known as the Tallinn Derby (Estonian: Tallinna derbi). Flora and Levadia are the two biggest and most successful clubs in Estonian football. The rivalry began in 1999, when Levadia entered Meistriliiga and immediately challenged the reigning champions Flora for the title, winning the treble in their first year in top-flight football.[14] In the early 2000s, language and nationality was also one of the separating factors between the two clubs, as Levadia was seen as the club of choice for the Russian speaking population of the city and Flora for the Estonian speaking. However, that image of Levadia has since then faded away. From 2019, the two clubs also share their home ground A. Le Coq Arena. The attendance record of 3,510 was set on 28 June 2023.[15]

Flora–Kalju rivalry edit

The fixture between Flora and Nõmme Kalju FC is known as raudteederbi (English: The Railway Derby). The name derives from the fact that the stadiums of the two clubs are connected via a railway. The rivalry emerged in the early 2010s, when Kalju started challenging Flora in terms of on-field success, as well as in fan popularity. Throughout the years, the rivalry has also intensified due to an enmity between Flora's founder Aivar Pohlak and Kalju's president Kuno Tehva. Flora's signing of Kalju's homegrown players Henrik Pürg and Vlasiy Sinyavskiy in 2018 caused a further strife in the relationship of the two clubs[16] and since then, no transfer deals have taken place between them. In an interview in 2023, Flora's academy graduate and current national team player Rauno Sappinen said he would rather retire than join Kalju, also calling the rival club 'appalling'.[17] The fixture's attendance record of 3,521 was set in the 2013 Estonian Cup final.[18]

Players edit

First-team squad edit

As of 1 March, 2024[19][20]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   EST Silver Rebane
2 DF   EST Stevin Kerge
3 DF   EST Marko Lipp
4 DF   EST Marco Lukka
5 MF   EST Vladislav Kreida
6 DF   EST Robert Veering
7 FW   EST Tony Varjund
8 MF   EST Danil Kuraksin
9 FW   EST Rauno Alliku
13 MF   EST Nikita Mihhailov
14 MF   EST Konstantin Vassiljev (captain)
15 MF   EST Oliver Cekredzi
16 DF   EST Erko Jonne Tõugjas
17 FW   EST Mait Eenmaa
No. Pos. Nation Player
18 MF   EST Remo Valdmets
20 FW   EST Sergei Zenjov
21 FW   EST Tristan Pajo
22 FW   EST Mark Anders Lepik
23 DF   EST Mihhail Kolobov
24 DF   EST Oscar Pihela (on loan from Kuressaare)
26 DF   EST Kristo Hussar
28 MF   EST Markus Soomets
29 FW   EST Sander Alamaa
33 GK   EST Evert Grünvald
43 DF   EST Markkus Seppik
77 GK   EST Kristen Lapa
80 MF   EST Roland Lukas
89 MF   EST Maksim Kalimullin

Out on loan edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
99 GK   EST Kaur Kivila (at Kuressaare until 31 December 2024)
FW   EST Aleksandr Šapovalov (at PAOK B until 31 December 2024)
No. Pos. Nation Player
FW   EST Mattias Männilaan (at Kuressaare until 31 December 2024)

For season transfers, see transfers winter 2022–23 and transfers summer 2023.

Reserves and academy edit

Retired numbers edit

12 – Club supporters (the 12th Man)

Club officials edit

Honours edit

Domestic edit

League edit

Cups edit

Regional edit

Seasons and statistics edit

Seasons edit

Europe edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "A. Le Coq Arena" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Flora esindusmeeskonna saavutused" [Team achievements] (in Estonian). FC Flora. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Ajalugu" [History] (in Estonian). FC Flora men's team. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Meistriliiga 2017 - 36. Round". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Tallinna FC Flora – Eesti meister 2015" [FC Flora Tallinn – Estonian champions 2015] (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 24 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  6. ^ "FC Flora kindlustas meistritiitli" [FC Flora secured league title] (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. 28 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Ajalugu tehtud! Flora mängib alagrupis!". Soccernet.ee. 26 August 2021. Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Mourinhot ja Kane'i ei tulnud: Flora sai ajaloolised eurovastased Serbiast, Belgiast ja Küproselt (vaata ka Euroopa liiga gruppe!)". Soccernet.ee. 27 August 2021. Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Flora head coach Jürgen Henn to step down after six years in charge". ERR. 30 November 2023.
  10. ^ "FC Flora logo" (in Estonian). FC Flora. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  11. ^ "FC Flora Tallinn". www.colours-of-football.com. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Flora Tallin Kit History". Football Kit Archive. Archived from the original on 15 March 2023. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  13. ^ "Sportland Arena" (in Estonian). Estonian Football Association. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  14. ^ Tallinna derbi värvikas ajalugu sai alguse juba 20 aastat tagasi (Video) (in Estonian), 26 April 2019
  15. ^ "Publikurekord! Levadia ja Flora duell purustas 20 aastat püsinud tippmargi". Soccernet. 28 June 2023.
  16. ^ "Suur jalgpallitüli! Kaks Eesti vutitalenti siirduvad Nõmme Kaljust FC Florasse". Postimees (in Estonian). 25 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Rauno Sappinen: ma pigem lõpetan karjääri, kui liitun Kaljuga". Delfi Sport (in Estonian). 20 October 2023.
  18. ^ "Eesti karikavõitjaks tuli Tallinna Flora". ERR (in Estonian). 18 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Tallinna FC Flora". Estonian Football Association. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
  20. ^ "Mängijad". fcflora.ee.
  21. ^ "Treenerid". FC Flora.
  22. ^ "Management". FC Flora.

External links edit