– You’ve been playing in Zenit for a long time, and you’ve seen a lot. Do you agree that this year has been different than the others?
– I think we’ve been really lucky this year, and that we’ve got the right mentality. We work together as a team, we’re united.
– When a new coach comes everybody worries, even the team doctors. Anybody can lose their job, for many reasons. Did you have any fears when Spalletti came, and how did the team get used to having a new coach?
– I think it’s always bad when the coach is changed in the middle of the season. But in our case the coach came two months before the beginning of the season, and we had two months to get ready, and to get used to the coach. Spalletti has his own way of looking at football, which was accepted and understood by our players. And so we worked together, and did a good job getting ready for the season, and now we’ve got results.
– You are one of Zenit’s players who forms the team’s system of play on the field. Even though you’re a halfback, you often play like a forward, and you also go way back to the defense. You’re everywhere. Does that mean you have additional responsibility, or do you just like playing all over the field?
– I always have to take responsibility on myself. I need to take the game on myself, that’s the key to the position I play. Ya, I often go way back on defense, to take the ball. But we don’t have important players in the team. Our team as a whole is what’s important. And if you noticed, our starting eleven changes all the time.
– Does the atmosphere at Petrovsky help you to play better and to score goals?
– Ya, that support always gives motivation. I never saw any other place where the stadium is always full, whether were playing a big team or a lightweight.
– Following Zenit’s matches, it’s clear that you and Danko have telepathic understanding on the field?
– I’m glad that Danko plays for us. Together we can make some great combinations. When I have the ball I know where Danko is going, and vice versa, Danko understands my runs.
– The fans are still worried about what you’re going to do with your “D” tattoo on your arm?
– I don‘t think I have to give any explanations about that. I like tattoos, and they’re all connected to my family in one way or another. “D” is the first letter of my name, and the number “10” is the number I like to play under. I think I need to justify only my play on the field. I only have to justify my tattoos to myself.
– How is your Russian coming along?
– Apparently I’m too modest for my age, and I’m too shy to speak Russian. But I understand the essence of what’s being said.
– There’s a good chance that Zenit will win the Russian Premier League this year. Tell us how you feel? Does that make you happy each day?
– It really is a good feeling. It’s always nice to feel closer and closer to the title. I had similar feelings with Dynamo, but there I knew that we always had difficulties ahead. Here I feel more confidence.
– A lot of Zenit’s female fans like you a lot, and think you’re a great family man.
– My family is the most important thing in my life. And when I start talking about it I get full of emotion. Thanks, I hope that I really am a good father.
– You replaced Andrey Arshavin. Are you sick of being compared to him?
– I’m proud when I’m compared to Arshavin. I got the chance to play with him. And I think he’s got the chance to become the best football player on earth, and he’ll do it if he wants it enough.
– Some people think that when Zenit bought Bukharov, that made Kerzhakov score a lot more goals…
Kerzhakov has scored a lot of goals in his career. There’s nothing for him to prove. But Bukharov’s arrival has given him more motivation. That’s the way it always goes when two players have the same position. I think they’re both really strong players, and that they’ll both help our attack.
– About Portugal… What did you say to Alves, so that he came to Zenit despite having offers from Chelsea and Barcelona? First you, then Meira in 2009, and now Alves this year. It’s like the situation in Dynamo, when the club bought a lot of Portuguese players at one time?
– I wouldn’t compare it to Dynamo, where there was a totally different situation. That team was not well-organized, starting right from the management. Everything is different in Zenit, everything is more organized here. About Bruno, as you know his old club set a really high sum for him, and if Zenit payed it, then Zenit really wanted him, and he obliged.
– What’s Cristiano Ronaldo like in real life? You play together with him in the Portuguese team. What’s he like?
– Cristiano Ronaldo is first of all a very good person. He’s got a lot of friends in the national side. It might seem that he’s arrogant, but that’s the other side of the coin when you’re popular. He can’t go anywhere without being noticed. He has almost no private life. His behavior is just a defensive reaction, but with us, the other players in the team, he’s a really nice guy.