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Wilmar Barrios: "I would be happy to play every match at the Gazprom Arena!"

The Colombian midfielder spoke to us about his life in St. Petersburg and how he's finding the Russian winter.
Wilmar Barrios: "I would be happy to play every match at the Gazprom Arena!"

Wilmar, the first snow of the winter has arrived in Russia, how do you feel about the Russian winter? 

I am not used to Snow and neither is my wife (smiles). Building snowmen, having snowball fights, all that is new and unusual for me, but I think it is very interesting. I really like it how the city is being decorated for the holidays, but I prefer to celebrate New Year with a decorated palm tree in the warm sun! My daughter has never seen snow so she’s in for a big surprise. I’m really interested to see her reaction to it.
 
Do you know how other Colombian players adapt to the Russian climate?

Everything will be ok. I think we know that it’s cold outside for most of the year and you need to change your mentality and how you deal with everyday life. It’s much more important that I am enjoying this stage of my career at Zenit and being with my teammates, who are also from Latin America, has helped me a lot.
 
You were famously seen coming out last on the pitch in Kazan. Why was that?

To be honest, I was frozen to the bone, it was terribly cold and I was trying to keep warm for as long as possible to be ready for the second half. In the first half there were moments when I felt I could not move at all! After the match, I told my friends that I thought about not coming back out after the half time break, because I was so afraid of that cold! (laughs). I’m only joking, of course, we are all professionals and I’m pleased that I was able to survive to the final whistle and we got the win in Kazan, that was the most important thing.  
 
In your first match in the Russian championship, you wore three T-shirts and two pairs of gloves, did you do the same against Rubin Kazan?

I thought it was cold in Ekaterinburg when we played Ural, it was cold then, but Kazan showed me I was wrong! I remember when I looked at the stands and saw the fans without their shirts on! And I felt cold in three T-shirts! But in Kazan it was at another level, I wanted to put on two jackets and three hats, Anyway, it was an interesting experience and something that only professional football could give me.
 
How are you spending your free time in St. Petersburg?

When I’m not in training I spend nearly all my free time at home, mostly as I do not want to go out. I watch TV, play on my games console and we go out as a family somewhere for lunch or dinner. I take my daughter for a walk in a shopping mall and my wife and I are playing on going to the Hermitage during the winter holidays, I’ve seen the building from the outside and it looks very beautiful and I’ve heard it’s even more beautiful inside, we’ll see!
 
Are your wife and daughter living here permanently with you? 

Yes, they are always with me. I was a little worried about how my daughter would find the cold, but she likes everything here and so does my wife. The main thing here is to dress warmly.
 
Are you looking forward to throwing some snowballs at the club’s training centre? What do you think of the Gazprom Training Centre?

When I first arrived at Zenit and saw the Gazprom Training Centre, I was very surprised, everything there is of the highest quality, absolute top level. It can be very difficult to maintain training pitches and keep them in good condition with the weather conditions in St. Petersburg, but here they are perfect.


With the cold weather here in Russia, are you pleased the stadium has a roof?

I would be happy to play every match at the Gazprom Arena! But sadly I know this is impossible. We have a fantastic stadium and it makes me very happy when I see the temperature outside, but know that during the game I’ll still feel warm. It’s true that after a home game, I think about the next away game and the smile on my face disappears. But I’m always happy to return to Petersburg.