Rauno Sappinen and Kristina Bannikova chosen as footballers of the year
The titles of Footballer of the Year for 2020 went to Rauno Sappinen (FC Flora) and Kristina Bannikova (Pärnu JK Vaprus). FC Flora manager Jürgen Henn was picked as Manager of the Year.
Flora and Estonian national team forward Rauno Sappinen was chosen by the selection commitee of press members and Estonian Football Association leaders as Footballer of the Year. The 24-year old scored four goals in seven national team matches and scored 26 goals in 28 domestic Premium League matches. Sappinen also scored a few for Flora in European competition.
Only two men have claimed the prize of Footballer of the Year over the last decade - Ragnar Klavan (seven times) and Konstantin Vassiljev (three times). In addition to that, this year's selection of Sappinen was the first time in nearly 20 years the award went to a player playing in the Estonian domestic league.
Sappinen collected 166 points in the selection process, coming in ahead of Serie A defender and former Liverpool man Ragnar Klavan and 18-year old Arsenal under-23 side goalkeeper Karl Jakob Hein, who was a substitute for a few Europa League matches for the Premier League side. Hein did get an award, being chosen as the best footballer under 21, as the 18-year old was also a substitute for a few Arsenal's Europa League matches.
Sappinen was thankful, to the people around him, but also to himself: "To do special things, you need special people around you. Individual awards can only be achieved with the help of good trainers and teammates. But you have to do something special yourself to help you be succesful on the pitch."
The best Estonian woman this year was 29-year old Pärnu and national team forward Kristina Bannikova, scoring both of the national team's goals this international window - one against Latvia and one against the Faroe Islands.
"Becoming the top Estonian woman footballer is not my life's goal. Once the moment comes, the feeling is still good. I have actually dedicated much of my life to it and trying to get better. And if that is noticed and recognised, it is always pleasant," Bannikova remained humble.
FC Flora manager Jürgen Henn was picked as the Manager of the Year, leading the legendary club to its second consecutive domestic league title, along with completing a treble of the domestic cup and the super cup.
"This award might seem a personal award. But it is actually clear the entire team on the pitch and the team in the manager's room is behind it. Many thanks to the team and the team behind the team," Henn noted.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste