Latvia has a rich history of being associated with football with the first-ever recorded match dating back to 1906 in Riga during a sports festival organized by the local Keizarmežs sporting union. Football is the third most popular game in the country after ice hockey and basketball.
The Latvian Football Federation is the governing body and is in charge of the Latvian National Football Team. Although the side has never qualified for a World Cup, they played the European Championship in 2004.
Despite the seemingly lacklustre performance on a global level, football continues to be extremely popular in Latvia. It’s popularity at sportsbooks easily overtakes the demand for Lativian online casino games.
Over the years, the nation produced some great talents, a few of whom currently play for major leagues around the globe. We’re looking at the top five Latvian footballers of all time.
Top 5 Latvian Footballing Legends from the Past, Present, and Future
- Pāvels Šteinbors – Šteinbors is a professional Latvian footballer who plays for Jagiellonia Białystok in the Ekstraklasa. He was a part of Skonto Riga’s youth academy and began his professional career in 2001. Despite staying in the squad till 2004, Šteinbors failed to make a mark due to stiff competition. He made a move to the Polish Cup in 2013 by signing a two-year contract with Górnik Zabrze. Pāvels Šteinbors played for the Latvia U-19 squad in 2003 and the U-21 squad in 2005.
- Aleksandrs Koļinko – Born June 18, 1975, Aleksandrs Koļinko is a retired Latvian professional goalkeeper who is currently engaged as the Goalkeeping Coach and Assistant Manager of FK RFS. Koļinko began his professional career in 1994 playing for Interskonto, Skonto Riga’s reserve team. After two years of dormancy, he finally made it to the first team in 1996. Aleksandrs Koļinko earned his reputation during his days at the Premier League, playing for Crystal Palace. However, his field time was limited due to inconsistent performances.
- Dāvis Ikaunieks – Born on January 7, 1994, Dāvis Ikaunieks is an attacking midfielder playing for the Latvian national team. He is currently on loan at Mladá Boleslav from FK Jablonec. Ikaunieks signed a three-year contract with Czech First League team Jablonec and after spending half a season in 2019 on loan at FK RFS, Ikaunieks went on loan to FC Fastav Zlín.
- Andris Vaņins – A member of the Latvian football team, Andris Vaņins is a professional goalkeeper who started his career in 1997 playing for FK Ventspils at the age of 17. He moved to FC Torpedo Moscow in 2013 but couldn’t get into the playing squad. Vaņins returned to Latvia in 2005 where FK Venta signed him on, but the club went bankrupt into the second half of the season, forcing Vaņins to return to FK Ventspils in 2006. He was the squad’s first choice for goalkeeper between 2006 and 2008 and received the Best Goalkeeper of the Season accreditation along with the Latvian Footballer of the Year award in 2008.
- Daniels Ontužāns – Born March 7, 2000, Daniels Ontužāns is a Latvian professional footballer playing for the Latvian national team and Bayern Munich II. Ontužāns began his career playing for JFC Skonto before moving on to FC Augsburg in Germany. Daniels Ontužāns joined Bayern’s youth division in 2010 and later moved on to its under-19 squad. In May 2018, Ontužāns signed a three-year contract with Bayern Munich II and was promoted to Bayern’s reserve squad in 2019-20 at the 3. Liga.