Radek Širl: “I’ll be back!”

The author of the blue-white-light blue’s championship-winning goal in the 2007 Russian Premier League, the foreign player with the most-ever appearances for Zenit, thanked Zenit’s fans for their support in his last Zenit interview, said that he will remember the club, and talked about where he will continue his career.

– I spent eight years in Zenit, right? – says Radek Širl. – In the life of each player in any team there are periods when the player doesn’t get on the field for a long time. Then he gets back on. And then he is left off the field for a long time again. That’s normal. I haven’t played on the pitch for almost eight months now, and of course I would like to know why not. I spoke with the coaches quite openly, and we came to the conclusion that I won’t manage to get into the starting side any more. Therefore I decided to go home. I spent my whole footballing life in Zenit. I played in the Czech Republic for just three years before coming to Zenit. I accomplished a lot with Zenit. Honestly, I’m really sad about leaving Zenit and St. Petersburg. Very sad! I’m probably not going to stay in St. Petersburg. I was born in the Czech Republic, and want to go home. But I’m going to remember St. Petersburg, and Zenit, and the people who helped me in this city with great respect. For now I’m still in the club, I’m giving you this interview, and, honestly, I still haven’t understood what happened. But even now I feel sad. Probably later on, a few hours from now, or tomorrow, I’ll feel really bad, and sad, when I understand what page I’ve turned in my life.

– What are the most incredible pages from the Zenit diary that you'll remember?
– The most important were our titles. Obviously the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup. The trophies that we won that year. I’m going to remember the team, the guys I played with here. We got used to one another. Ya, it was hard for the first 2–3 years, but after that… they became my brothers, and I’m not exaggerating.

– Has the club changed a lot over the years that you’ve been here?
– It’s changed a lot. A lot. Of those players who were here when I came, only Igor Denisov and Slava Malafeev. At the beginning the team wasn’t so strong as it is now. Zenit has taken steps forward each year that I've been here, becoming stronger and stronger. And I'm very happy that I stayed here longer than all other Czech players in the team.

– Did you know that you've played more matches for Zenit than any other foreign player?
– No, I didn’t know that. That’s great, and very important for me. That’s good news (smiles).

– The fans were awaiting your 200th match for the club…
– I have a lot to say to all those fans who supported me all these years. I want to say a big thanks to everyone who cheered for me, for the team, and for all of us. And I hope that the fans will support Zenit just as well in the future. Players always like to know that so many people stand behind them. I wish all of Zenit’s fans the best, both in their own lives and in the football life of the team. I’m going to cheer for Zenit myself from now on. And I will definitely be back to St. Petersburg, for example when the new stadium opens. And Tomáš Hubočan is staying here, so I might be back even earlier. I’d like to come back earlier. We’ll see how it goes.

– How do you plan to spend the rest of your career?
– I’m going to play in Czech Republic for another three or four years, depending on my health. And that will be it (smiles). That’s the way football goes!

Fans will be able to say good-bye to Radek Širl at Petrovsky Stadium during Zenit's home match against Tom this Saturday, September 11th.