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Miguel Danny: “Zenit helped me to become the best foreign player in Russia”

Zenit`s Portuguese halfback spoke about how he likes playing for the Petersburg club, evaluated the blue-white-sky blues` chances in their upcoming tournaments, and commented on the hiring of Ruud Gullit as head coach of Terek Grozny.

- You`ve been named the foreign player of the year for last season in the Russian championship. How did you react to that news and who do you personally think is the best foreign player in the league?
- Ya, I was chosen as player of the year, but that`s not just based on my own merit. I was chosen because over the course of the whole season my team played extremely well, the team that won the Russian Cup, and the Russian league. The team helped me – a Zenit player – to win the nomination, and to become the best foreign footballer in Russia. There a lot of good foreign players in our team. (The Belgian) Nicolas Lombaerts was the best central fullback in the Russian league this year, in my opinion. Another really strong and important player for Zenit is (the Serb) Danco Lazaovic. As for players from other teams, there`s Vagner Love, who helped CSKA immediately upon returning to the club to win second place in the league. There`s also Welliton of Spartak, the best attacker in the championship. And there`s Dumbia from CSKA, who scored a lot of goals (5 in 11 matches). Again, Zenit won the championship, and the Cup, and our team has players who deserve to be mentioned this year.

- Do you plan to play for Zenit for a long time, or are you ready to try your skills in a greater league? Are you planning to continue your contract with your team?
- I have a valid contract with Zenit for another year and a half. I`m totally satisfied with the contract. I`ve been offered to prolong the contract, and my agent is aware of that and knows perfectly well what I want. Right now we`re holding discussions with the club`s management. I`m not going to lie – I want to play somewhere else in a European league as well, but I`ve got plenty of time left. I`m just 27 years old, and there`s a lot of time ahead. We are playing in the Europa League, and we have the chance to win that tournament. We`ll have the chance to play in the Champions League starting in the middle of this season. I`m going to give it my all.

- Will it be hard for Zenit to keep its positions in Russia, and is the team strong enough to win the Europa League?
- As for the Russian league, it`s always difficult to win the title the second year in a row. But we have a strong team. The team is the same as we had last year. Of course we have strong competitors, and there are other clubs that want to win the title, but we`ve kept the same group of players, the same players who lost only twice all of last year. As for the Europa League, I think our team is ready to win that tournament. Right now we`re getting ready for the season, and we have a very important match ahead against Young Boys (Switzerland). We`re stronger than that team, but we have to show it on the field. But if we win against Young Boys, then we`ll be much better off in the next round, because we`ll be in better physical condition, and more together as a team. We`ll see how it goes from there.

- What do you know about your opponent in the Europa League? Can Zenit get past Young Boys on class alone, without playing at full strength?
- If this team got to this stage in the tournament, then that means that it deserves to be where it is, and I think they`ll be ready to give their all to play well.

- What do you think about the prospects for the next round of the Europa League to meet with Rubin Kazan, who took third place in the Russian league this year?
- Any team that we meet there will be a very difficult opponent considering the fact that the team got to this point in the tournament. Whether it`s Rubin Kazan or another team makes no difference. We know Rubin Kazan very well, we played with them twice last year. We`ll try to do everything possible to win if we get that opponent.

- Ruud Gullit has been hired as coach of Terek Grozny. Did that surprise you or not? Zenit is going to Grozny in the first round of the new season. What do you expect?
- That was a real surprise! Because there was no news, no rumors that he might become Terek`s head coach. Gullit is a good specialist, and has done well in Europe and in North America as a coach. Terek is a team that traditionally plays well at home. Of course they`ll want to win at home with their new coach. That will be additional motivation for them. But it`s going to be an important game for us too. We`re going to try to do everything possible to win, and to defend our title, whoever our opponent and their coach is.