FC Kairat forward told UEFA.com, why he made the decision to continue his career in Almaty, spoke about his football dream and admitted that he would celebrate a goal against Zenit.
A year ago it seemed like Andrey Arshavin's career was close to ending. In winter 2016 a forward terminated his contract with FC Kuban, making less than 10 appearances for the club. However, new season Russia's ex-captain began in the new country, he signed a contract with FC Kairat and got back into shape, becoming one of the club leaders. This year Kairat finished second in the Premier League and got to the final of the Kazakhstan Cup, and Andrey himself scored eight goals this season and was named second best player of the season. In November the player extended his contract with the club until the end of 2017.
UEFA.com: Before beginning of the season you were close to ending your career, but decided to join Kairat. Would you do the same if the manager was not Alexander Borodyuk, but some one else?
Andrey Arshavin: It does not matter now, everything happened how it is. Borodyuk offered to join Kairat, it did not take long for me to make a decision and I agreed to join him.
UEFA.com: How important is for you the manager when making a decision which team to join?
Arshavin: I did not have many teams in my career. In Zenit I played with whoever was in charge. In Arsenal, I would probably join anyway - no matter who was coaching the team at that time. On the other hand, we all know that for the past 20 years this is (Arsene) Wenger's team. Then I returned to Zenit, no matter who was coaching the team. In the situation with Kairat, manager played important role in my decision making, other coaches may not have even considered inviting me. I did not play for quite a long time. Alexander knew me very well both as a player and as a person, that is why I decided to go for it. In that moment he believed in me more than I believed in myself.
UEFA.com: Among all the coaches, who was the most comfortable to work with?
Arshavin: Overall, I am thankful to all the coaches. I had better relationships with some of them, but overall I would point out (Guus) Hiddink, (Yuriy) Morozov and (Dick) Advocaat, but with (Vlastimil) Petrzhela we showed a good fooball as well. In my opinion I was very lucky with coaches.
Andrey Arshavin in the match action for Kairat
UEFA.com: You will continue to play for Kairat next season. How did you imagine last years of your career when you were young?
Arshavin: I did not imagine this when I was younger. At first, I never thought football will be my profession. In that time, in USSR, there was not such job - footballer. I training, played football because I liked it and I was good at it. I would imagine, nobody in the early ages thinking about career end.
UEFA.com: Then another question. What were you dreaming to achieve?
Arshavin: Of course, I would not call it such big word "a dream", but I always wanted to play in Europe. I have achieved it. Maybe, not in the ideal team where I wanted to play. I wanted to play for Barcelona because I was supporting the team from when I was younger. Other dreams? Maybe I had more, but it is hard express them in one sentence.
UEFA.com: You have won a lot of games. What match would you replay now?
Arshavin: I would not replay any match, would not even point out one game where I played well. In terms of the atmosphere I remember three best games - when we won Russian Premier League with Zenit in 2007, beat England at Luzhniki and of course UEFA Cup final.
UEFA.com: You are almost a year now in Kazakhstan. Is there anything new that you found out about the country?
Arshavin: I can not say I found out something significant. Before I came, I always thought that it is always warm in Kazakhstan, but that is not true.
UEFA.com: What did you know about the country and local football before joining?
Arshavin: I hardly knew anything about football. I knew that Kazakhstan is a big country. I heard that Almaty is intelligent and intellectual city.
Аршавин на клубном мероприятии
UEFA.com: In the beginning of the year social networks were full of photos with you and local people from Almaty. How often do people recognise you on the streets?
Arshavin: My popularity does not depend on football. My face has been in the news - I have a feeling that I do not need to support it with showing good football (smiling). Since I have started playing for FC Kuban I wear a cap, but I do not hide from supporters. You can see me on the streets. I was often in the Gorky Park, when my family was in Almaty.
UEFA.com: This year you took part in several charity projects and even shaved local journalist's head, who did not believe in your success in Kazakhstan.
Arshavin: In the beginning of the season I agreed with the club management that I will be taking part in such events. I support everything that Kairat is organising.
UEFA.com: The season in Kazakhstan has ended. How can you rate your game this year?
Arshavin: I think that I have played alright. Feel that I was helpful to the team. Maybe I did not show anything extraordinary. After half a year with no training sessions I have played many games, this season was quite good for me. However, I did not win anything with Kairat.
UEFA.com: What game has remained in your memory this season?
Arshavin: I liked the goal against FC Taraz. I always wanted to score this way and i finally managed to. I really enjoyed playing in that game.
UEFA.com: In the Europa League Kairat did not get past Maccabi Tel Aviv. Why?
Arshavin: Unfortunately, we got very strong opposition for the second round. They were better organised as well as had better selection of players. Maccabi was a bit better and hence got through.
UEFA.com: Maccabi is now playing in the same group with Zenit in the Europa League. If Kairat was playing against Zenit, what would you feel playing against the home club?
Arshavin: It would be interesting to play, especially in Almaty. I would not want to play against Zenit on Petrovskiy Stadium. It would be tough playing away, in St.Petersburg, but at home we would definitely cause some danger.
UEFA.com: Would you celebrate a goal against Zenit?
Arshavin: Think that I would celebrate, but not hard. Why not?
UEFA.com: In the Champions League Russian teams are not playing very well. Why do you think it is happening?
Arshavin: For Rostov getting in the Champions League - great achievement, and they are playing with two big clubs, who are better than them on the paper. CSKA, unfortunately, does not have such financial resources. Every year the team is getting weaker, nowadays it is their maximum. Resources are decreasing. (Alan) Dzagoev is not present, (Roman) Eremenko is banned, that is why CSKA is struggling.
UEFA.com: Can you rate the chances of Russian teams in the Europa League?
Arshavin: I think that Zenit has very good chances. The team has good selection of players and is showing good football. They can go far. FC Krasnodar struggled but qualified from their group. But the team is ready for tough games ahead.
UEFA.com: Your predictions for Russian and English Premier Leagues?
Arshavin: In England two teams will be fighting for the first place - Manchester City and Arsenal, even if Chelsea is leading now. In Russia, Spartak and Zenit are contenders for the first place.