Leeds scored the winner in the 94th minute to become the first team since Wigan Athletic 11 years ago to start the final day…
Estonia is not where most young Australian footballers imagine wanting to play in Northern Europe.
But tricky winger Aamir Abdallah’s exploits this season have shone a light on the small nation.
It has a population similar in size to Adelaide and just like here in Australia, football isn’t the most popular sport – basketball and ice hockey share that honour.
Its coefficient is marginally better then cellar dwellers like Gibraltar and Liechtenstein. There are no Estonian clubs in any of the European club tournaments this season and they have never qualified for the World Cup or European championships.
Valeri Karpin is a name most fans won’t recognise, but he spent over a decade in La Liga and is the greatest ever Estonian player. Although supporters of the English Premier League might say that Ragnar Klavan and Mart Poom have a claim to that fame.
Aamir Abdallah’s journey to Estonia started when he was a star pupil at the North Lions Academy. From there he moved on to Brunswick City Soccer Club.
Brunswick City were formed in 1970 by the local Greek community in Melbourne’s west and were one of the most successful clubs in the late ’90s and early 2000s in Victoria.
They are a club that has always relied on bringing through youth players. Two of their alumni have gone on to play at the top level in Australia – Theo Markelis with the Victory and George Mells with Adelaide and Brisbane.
A return of nine goals in 23 matches as a fresh-faced 16-year-old in 2016 didn’t go unnoticed. But it was his form in 2017 that had scouts salivating and interstate teams fighting for his signature.
Abdallah was one of the highest performing players in Victoria that season, netting 21 goals in 35 matches, including memorable hat tricks against Bendigo and Richmond.
Surprisingly it wasn’t a Melbourne-based A-League side that signed him. It was one of the A-League’s best clubs for youth development, the Central Coast Mariners.
The Mariners’ academy teams have a proven track record of getting players ready for the A-League. However, Abdallah struggled with injuries and the pressure and played in only three matches as an impact sub. He was cut at the end of the season.
His next stop was at Northcote City where he managed three goals before transferring to Heidelberg City and then the season was abruptly cancelled due to COVID-19.
Determined to not be another statistic like the thousands of players that have been lost in the Australian football system, Abdallah turned to the recruiting powers of social media for help.
His YouTube highlights reel of spectacular goals and wizardry with the ball drew the attention of a big European club. However, it was one based in Estonia.
In early 2021 it was announced that Abdallah had signed for FC Levadia who are one of the big sides in the Meistriliiga.
FC Levadia has only been around for 22 years but has amassed a trophy haul that includes nine Meistriliiga titles and ten Estonian cups.
He scored goals in pre-season friendlies and has been spending time ever since between the first team and under-21s while adjusting to the language and lifestyle.
He’s been in great form for the under-21s, scoring seven goals in ten matches. Abdallah has one of the best goals-to-minutes ratio out of any Australian winger in Europe and FC Levadia will be looking to sell for a profit, if the progress continues.
However, Aamir Abdullah hasn’t yet been contacted by national team selectors who are more than likely dubious of the quality of the Estonian first division, let alone its under-21s, where the winger is dominating.