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Ilya Vakhania: “I understand that this is only the beginning of my professional career”

The blue-white-sky-blue defender talks about his love of football, adapting to life at Zenit 2, his personal hobbies which include reading, and how he loves Saint Petersburg.
Ilya Vakhania: “I understand that this is only the beginning of my professional career”

Ilya, how did you get into football?

Since my childhood I’ve only been interested in football, I could play it for hours. My parents noticed this and they decided to take me to a football school and that’s where my journey in football began.

Tell us about a key memory in your professional career so far.

It is very difficult to choose a specific memory as there’s a lot of them. I am very glad that during my time at the Gazprom Academy I had very good coaches. At the beginning of my career, Dmitry Vladimirovich Vasiliev, trained me, taught me well and always supported me. Igor Vladimirovich Lebedev taught me a lot. I am also grateful to Alexander Nikolaevich Selenkov, who helped me in many ways.

Have you always played as a defender? Ever wanted to change position?

Yeah, I’ve always been a defender and I’ve played across the entire backline. When you’re a kid, everyone dreams of being a striker and scoring goals. I wanted to be like that, but I also realized I prefer the defensive duties of football and ensuring that opponents don’t score goals.

What qualities do you think footballers, regardless of their position, should possess?

I think all footballers should have stamina and a strong mentality. These qualities will help any player achieve some form of success.

How did you find the transfer to Zenit 2? What emotions did you feel at first?

The news took me by surprise! Of course I was very happy. I understand that this is only the beginning of my professional career and I don’t plan to stop here. 

How did the transition to the new team go initially?

Honestly everything went amazingly. I am familiar with some of the guys, however I only really recognized some. I am glad that I’ve made some friends. The coaching staff have also helped me to adapt to the team. You could say that I feel at home here now.

You played for the Russian Youth Team. Where do you feel you gained more experience from, the national team or Zenit?

Playing against the best players from different countries will get you more experience, but I can’t say that it was enough in just the youth team.

Who do you consider to be footballing legends?

Throughout time there have been several phenomenal players who have become legends. At the moment I believe we live in the era with one of the best, Lionel Messi.

You have two tattoos, what made you get them?

Each tattoo means an achieved goal and also reflects a certain period in my life.

Not so long ago, Ilya Skrobotov and Daniil Shamkin took part in the PES Battle show. What do you think about gaming and would you like to take part in something like this?

During the self-isolation period, games have been there for everyone. Honestly, I like to play games so yes I would like to take part in something like that.

What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any unusual hobbies?

I prefer to spend free time with loved ones. I also like to read and watch TV shows.

Name your favourite book, film, and a song which is related to an important event in your life.

I really liked the book Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. As for a film, definitely Green Book, a really awesome movie! As for a song, I don’t have one. 

In an ideal world, if there was an opportunity to move anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

I wouldn’t change anything. I was born and live in the greatest city on Earth. I really love Saint Petersburg.

For over a month now we’ve been self-isolating. How has it been?

Throughout this period I have been constantly training and recovering from my operation.

Have you got a message for the fans?

I want to thank them for their support and I hope that we will meet again soon.