Does the deal with Championika now give you a scouting network throughout Russia?
No, that is not the aim of this project, we want to involve as many children as possible in grassroots football and make it available to them. We want to cover the whole of Russia, not only with the sporting element, but also its about getting the club’s brand out there in all regions. This is what the top European clubs do and Zenit should be no exception. To start, we’ll begin in Russia, because we want to remain the most popular club in our country for now and in the future, plus if our performance in Europe goes well, then we will have the base to move on to doing it abroad.
Zenit have one of the best academies in the country. Do you expect this new project to have any effect on the Gazprom Academy?
As I said, this is not the main goal of the project. But if talented guys are found then of course, we will gladly accept them at the Gazprom Academy and they can start their professional careers here with us if they want.
It’s 13 years since the famous Russia v Netherlands game at Euro 2008 when you had such an impactful performance and won the match. Does the Russian team have any players now who could do that, and does Russia have the ability to get to the knockout stages of a big tournament?
Of course, this team has good players, players who we can call “matchwinners”? Maybe yes. But it is always important to have good players around you. I may have created some good moments in that game, but if I did not have great teammates around me then we would not have won the match.