From the First to Champions league

1 August 2023

It’s a bit strange to call him a veteran at 24 years old. Still, in the context of our team, in which during these eight years he carried the Valmiera name, growing into a solid professional and stable player of the Latvian national team, it is legal – even more so, Alvis Jaunzems himself does not shy away from this description. It’s impressive – the man from Staiceele has been present in all the club’s most important games since returning to the highest level of Latvian football.

First Eurocup victory

It’s nice to finally win, we went to the game with the idea of ​​getting our first win on the European stage. If it were not done, there would be a lot of questions for ourselves: what, how, and why? We had to dominate and we did. Maybe we could have scored more goals, but for the first victory at this level, 3-0 is also a convincing result. At the end of the game, in my opinion, we did not play so aggressively, the opponent was tired and could not get out of defense. There is still a second game where I hope there will be a lot of goals. If I have to choose which game to put on the same shelf as this one, then the duel with Auda comes to mind – the return to Dalina stadium. That game immediately comes to mind, because there were a lot of pleasant emotions, a lot of spectators, returning to the stadium and winning, I will always remember it.

What lacked before?

In previous years, to get the first victory, there was a lack of experience. Last year we had to take Shkendija, but their experience prevailed, which they skillfully used to squeeze opportunities from our small mistakes and turn them into goals. We were too young. We were able to show more against Olimpija Ljubljana this year as well. We saw well how in the home game they were able to use half-moments that changed the course of the game. Differences in levels were not so decisive, everything was determined by milliseconds, experience, and capitalization. A few chances, but the quality of the players showed why they play at a higher level, there were players who turn the moment into a goal, you have to know how to do that too.

Eight years with Valmiera

I have been with Valmiera FC for a very long time, it is difficult to compare what kind of team, and organization it was before and what it is now. The training process and professionalism as it is now is incomparable. In the first years of the Virsliga, we were amateurs, hardly anyone got paid at all. To be honest, absolutely everything has changed, things have developed, if not one, then two or three steps further. Of course, this experience has given me a lot – I have grown up with the club. The first game in Virsliga, the first goals, the first awards, I have enjoyed everything here, I also won the title of Latvian champion. After the triumph in the 2022 season, I put things on the shelves, there were thoughts that after last season I could take a step further, but the opportunity to play in the Champions League attracted me to the idea that I should stay. Two enjoyable games where you can enjoy the excitement of the level and everything that comes with it. I was looking forward to the draw, I watched it in both the Champions and Conference leagues, and I was interested in who our opponents could be. It is an indescribable joy for me that it was possible to combine the debut of the Champions League with the first match of this level at the Jana Dalina Stadium. A huge bonus in the context of this entire season.

Special games

Emotions drive us forward. I should mention that before the game I heard the anthem of the Champions League, it seemed that it was playing in the stadium, but I had no idea that it was not allowed to be played, and that there was a pick-up truck driving down the street with the legendary piece playing on two loudspeakers. I was inside the game, so only after reading Twitter did I find out what it was really like; glad for the idea, which I also appreciate. It’s unreal, nice that so many people came to watch us, the hype all around – already several days before you could feel that everyone is really looking forward to this game. A sold-out stadium has not been an event for us so far, so it’s a pity that we didn’t manage to please those who came, but at least we scored one, we were able to enjoy real emotions and use them to move forward. It was certainly interesting for the spectators, it was also interesting for us, it was an indescribable joy to go to the pitch and see that the whole stadium was filled. We will go out for the match against Tre Penne, try to dominate, and score goals, that’s the only way we can recover from the loss to Olimpija. The crowd will definitely push us forward and we will go on the attack, the aim will be to attack for the whole ninety minutes and do everything to make the crowd happy and go home satisfied with our performance.

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