Claudio Marchisio: "St. Petersburg gives me only positive thoughts and feelings"
The Italian midfielder took a look at his first year at Zenit and the contribution of Gazprom to the development of sport.
I joined the team at the end of the transfer window when the season was already underway and quite a few matches had been played. Because of this, I expected some difficulties in adaptating and integrating with the team. But everything has turned out to be much easier than I expected and this makes me happy. With all of the players I have found a common language and that is very encouraging.
You're very active on Instagram and from that it's easy to see how much you like St. Petersburg.
Yes, St. Petersburg gives me only positive thoughts and feelings. It's an amazing city with a rich history and culture. Because of the canals, it is called the Venice of the North, but St. Petersburg reminds me of Rome due to the cultural and historical contribution that the city has made to the history of this country.
Can you feel that St. Petersburg is very into sports, especially football?
Yes, and now I would like to mention Gazprom, which plays a very important and key role in the development and promotion of sport and its values in St. Petersburg. I have seen in recent months that the company's influence extends even beyond St. Petersburg and into the whole of Russia.
I think it is very important and positive that the company participates in a wide variety of social projects too. Gazprom really plays a vital role in bringing all people into playing sports at all levels.
St. Petersburg can be called a sports city, its residents spend a lot of time training and happily take part in many sports, even outside in the winter.
How does your family find the city and how do they spend their time here?
They feel great in St. Petersburg. My sons have already got used to their new school and they play football here. David is training at Gazprom Academy, while Leonardo is training somewhere else.
I know that a lot of my Zenit teammates live on Krestovsky Island, but my family and I decided to live in the city centre, on Fontanka, because we want to live in the heart of city and experience the emotions of St. Petersburg every day, we want to live the life of this city.
What do you think of Zenit's stadium?
The Gazprom Arena is a magical place. I really like the innovative aspects of the arena, its comfort and design. I like the architecture of the stands, you can feel how close the fans are to you. I like the sense of responsibility the stadium gives the players. Every player feels that at the Gazprom Arena he has to give 100% to win.
Are there any Russian habits that have surprised you?
The most surprising Russian habits to me have been with the food. In Italy, we always clearly know what time we eat and drink and what will be on the plate. In Russia you can drink a cappuccino at any time of the day. In Italy there is a strictly defined time of day for this. If in Italy you came to a restaurant in the evening and ordered a coffee, everyone would be very surprised.
What else has surprised me? I can say the cleanliness of the city. Compared with Italy, then it's just like heaven and earth.
How do you rate the standards and facilities at the Zenit training base?
The Gazprom Training Centre was the first place I saw when I arrived in St. Petersburg. Our base has a great location in a very beautiful scenic area. The training centre is the place where the club is created and strengthened, it is the secret to success for any team. The options there for meetings, training, physiotherapy and relaxing gives a real added bonus to Zenit.
Do you have any thoughts on the Football for Friendship program?
All the first team players know about the social projects and events run by the club. Football for Friendship is what football should always be about, especially for children, passion, friendship and fun. The ability to spread these values among children means helping to train the best women and men for the future and this is one of the great powers of sport.