FeatureMy Liverpool Story… with Ragnar Klavan

By Ragnar Klavan


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In the latest entry to the 'My Liverpool Story' series on Liverpoolfc.com, Ragnar Klavan explains the tale of his shock move to Anfield and how he became a cult hero…

I remember my Augsburg teammates' questions whenever they saw me doing extra work or having another private session.

What are you doing? It's good here. You play and this team is doing well.

The answer was always the same: 'No, I still have a dream. I want to go to the Premier League.'

Even when I was 30, I never thought, 'Yeah, maybe it's not happening.' If I see a brick wall with my dream behind it then I want to go for it.

It was around May 2016 when my life really changed. This was the first time I became aware there was some interest from Liverpool.

My agent said, 'The Liverpool team is interested.' I asked, 'Everton?' He said, 'No, no, the red ones!'

I wasn't some kind of superstar in Germany, I was just a hard-working player, so to get this kind of news shocked my world.

A few months later, I fulfilled my dream by completing the transfer to Liverpool and my world pretty much changed overnight.

It was really strange because the other clubs I played at had country-based or city-based recognition.

Suddenly, I – a rather shy person, to be honest – had this worldwide recognition now and it was something totally new for me.

I flew back home once via Stockholm in Sweden. In passport control, the officer was like, 'Oh, you're a Liverpool player!'

But it was a dream come true and I had worked so hard for this opportunity.

I remember Jürgen Klopp once said I didn't even realise how good I was. With me, it's a blessing and a curse to not be a confident player.

Not that I saw myself as a not-worthy player or whatever, instead it just pushed me to do extra training – even when I was a young player.

Growing up in Estonia, we only had one player – Mart Poom – who made it to the top leagues. It wasn't easy at all to come from Estonia to Liverpool.

I was really self-critical of myself, 'OK, this is not good enough. I need to do more work.' As a young player, you adapt to some habits and my habits were to be really self-critical and do more work, be self-critical and do more work – over and over again. As I said, a blessing and a curse.

It took me a couple of months to get used to the pace and environment in training at Liverpool. Thankfully I could adapt and went on to have two amazing seasons.

Looking back, my shyness and lack of confidence is probably the reason why I didn't celebrate that last-minute winner at Burnley in 2018 that much!

For me it was like, 'OK, I scored but the game isn't over.' It was the same when Mart Poom scored as a goalkeeper for Sunderland with a header. His reaction was the same – he scored and started running back. This must be our Estonian celebration: back to work, the work is not over yet.

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That Burnley goal was probably my most important moment in a Liverpool shirt, winning the game so late on.

But my proudest memory has to be my debut.

It was away at Arsenal on the opening day of the 2016-17 season. Sadio Mane was on fire and we ended up winning 4-3. I was so, so proud of that moment.

It was the first of many special memories with this amazing club and its supporters.

Of course I always used to get things through from fans about how much they loved the 'Klavan turn' and 'Lord Klavan' and things like that.

I guess it's nice to be a cult hero because I had such amazing experiences with Liverpool fans – in the city itself and all over the world. I can tell you the admiration was on both sides.

This connection obviously saw me become Estonia's spokesperson for the Eurovision in Liverpool in 2023.

I remember they called me, 'Could you be the spokesperson for Estonia?' Normally it's musicians and actors. I was like, 'I don't think I'd be good.' They said, 'No, no, you'll be really good because there's going to be a lot of Liverpool fans in there.' It made sense, so I said yes in the end.

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My life post-Liverpool has certainly been eventful. After leaving Cagliari, I returned home after 19 years away.

When you're here in this environment, you get a lot of interesting projects and one of those was Estonia's version of Strictly Come Dancing.

It was so difficult! I put in a lot of hours – maybe even more than I did playing football. It would have been so easy to say, 'No, maybe I'll look stupid on live TV in front of the whole country.' But I saw it as a great challenge and it ended up being a really great experience.

At the age of 38, I'm still playing every now and then for the team I'm president of, JK Tallinna Kalev.

We play in the top division and last season we finished third. It meant this season we played in the UEFA Conference League qualifiers.

Because we are a really, really young team, I wanted to give experience to the young players and help them develop, so they'd hopefully have this amazing chance that I had to play in the top leagues – especially at Liverpool.

I look forward to seeing you at Anfield soon.


Ragnar Klavan was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Glenn Price



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.