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The Portuguese Lion

The best Zenit player in 2010 in the opinion of the team`s own players was Miguel Danny. The Portuguese footballer talked with our newspaper several times over the course of the season, and has his own individual style of answering our questions. This time we decided to take a different approach and skip the interview format. So here is our view of the player from our point of view.

Danny and competition

Before starting our conversation about this season`s hero, let`s go back two years in time. Or rather, to the end of January, 2009, when Andrey Arshavin went first to Paris, then to London right after Zenit`s pre-season practices in Dubai. Just a few days later Arshavin became an official Arsenal player. We decided to recall that moment because some skeptics believe to this day that if Arshavin had stayed in Zenit, then Danny would never have become a star in the Petersburg club, simply because it would have been impossible for both players to be on the field (or even in the same team) together. It`s the classic story about two bears in the same den.

Danny himself was never bothered by such questions, and still isn`t to this day. Moreover, in his opinion, if the captain of Russia`s national team had stayed in Zenit, there wouldn`t have been any problems at all.

– Arshavin is an excellent player. Everybody loves him in St. Petersburg. He`s a historical figure here. Everybody always remembers Arshavin warmly, despite the fact that he hasn`t played for Zenit in a long time. It would be great to play together with him,” says Danny.

That said Danny thinks that there`s strong competition in Zenit at his position even today. Danny named… almost half of Zenit`s team when asked who he competes with for playing time. And he added absolutely sincerely that this is real competition, not imaginary.

But we`ll allow ourselves our personal opinion: when Danny was in form, he had no competitors for a starting position in 2010.

Danny and his title

Our hero is an ambitious person. And so he doesn`t hide that he`s proud of his title of Zenit player of the year in 2010. And Danny himself called this award a "title". The Portuguese player said of himself this way: “The season for me was obviously very successful. I scored quite a few goals (10 goals in the Russian League, one each in the Russian Cup, the Champions League, and the Europa League – Editor), made quite a few assists (6 assists in the Russian League, 2 in the Europa League, and 1 in the Champions League. – Editor). But I could have scored a lot more, if I didn`t miss a whole lot of chances to do so.

Danny and contradictions

The Portuguese is a different person on the field and in life, in our opinion. In the game he`s a real lion. And that`s no surprise considering that Danny`s horoscope sign is the lion as well.

On the field Danny is fearless, emotional, and sometimes hot-tempered. It`s enough to say that he got two-thirds of his yellow cards this year (4 out of 6) for “unsporting behavior”, meaning he as punished for talking to the referee, for taking his shirt off after scoring a goal, or for yelling at his opponents.

But that`s just how Danny is as a player. In life the Portuguese is a calm, reasonable person, who really loves his family: his wife Petra and his twin sons Bernardo and Franscisco. This was especially clear this summer, when the whole family lived in St. Petersburg and often came to Zenit`s practice facility to watch Danny play.

It`s also interesting that this summer Danny`s family discovered a lot of new places that they liked in St. Petersburg. In particular, they found Sestroretsk, a picturesque suburb of the city on the Baltic Sea where the family went more than once for the weekend and stayed in a hotel by the water.

Danny and the national team

And all the same, despite the triumph in 2010 as a whole, Danny did have one bad experience – at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The striker said many times that going to the World Cup to play for Portugal was already a big honor for him. However deep in his heart he probably expected more in South Africa than just two matches in the starting team, not a single goal, and an exit from the tournament in the round of 16 (albeit at the hands of the future World champions).

Upon returning to St. Petersburg, Danny admitted that we has very thankful to Luciano Spalletti for giving him an extra ten days off after the World Cup. During those ten days Danny tried to leave his thoughts about the World Cup behind him. And judging by the way he played the second half of the season, he was successful.

Why is the Portuguese star having less success in the national team than he does for Zenit?

– There`s a big difference between playing for the club and playing for the national team. Just take the fact that the national team has players from many different clubs, and who don`t see one another very often. Here, in Zenit, we`re together almost all year. And we understand each other immediately, – explains Danny himself. But we wish Danny success in the Portuguese squad in the future. There is all reason to believe that he will play well for his national team.

Danny and the future

What will happen with Danny in the future? Does he have any more stimulus as a player for the St. Petersburg club, or is the Portuguese paying more and more attention to the rumors that one or another European super club wants his services?
– Of course there is still plenty of stimulus to play in Petersburg, – says the season hero himself. – For example, I really want to win the Europa League in the spring, and play well in the Champions League next fall. And winning the Russian Premier League will never get old.

Furthermore, it`s worth remembering the words of Danny`s wife, who said that if her husband had a contract with the club for 5 years instead of two, that would not be a bad thing for her husband at all. So there`s still hope that we`ll hear Danny`s name again in the list of the best Zenit players, and of the best players in the whole Russian Premier League.