After surprising football fans with a Russian move, record signing from Tottenham, David Bentley says he’s not disappointed with his choice after playing two games for Rostov.
Rostov can’t boast any major trophies in their cabinet, with their biggest achievement being runners-up in the 2003 Russian Cup and their highest place in the top flight – sixth in 1998.
However, the Don's side hit the headlines by signing Tottenham and former England midfielder David Bentley on a season-long loan as he became the first Englishman to play in the Russian Premier League.
“It was an opportunity and I took it,” Bentley told RT. “So far, it’s been very good. I’m enjoying Russia. Despite a disappointing result today, my teammates, manager, who’s good, they all made me very welcome.”
Seven times capped Bentley remains Tottenham's record signing, joining from Blackburn for $27.5 million in July 2008.
But he has since dropped down the pecking order at White Hart Lane as loan spells at Birmingham and West Ham followed as well as a knee injury.
The midfielder reportedly fell out of favor with manager, Harry Redknapp, since soaking the coach, live on TV, when Spurs first qualified for the Champions League.
And the 28-year-old hopes a new challenge in Russia will help him kick-start his flagging career.
“I don’t have regrets,” he stressed. “We qualified for the Champions League… I don’t think that was the major factor. Redknapp had very good players to pick from. You know, it’s just things in life. This is the way it goes some time. But we move on from there. I’m here now and enjoying myself. Hopefully, I’ll get back on top.”
Bentley made his Russian debut in a 1-0 home win against Dan Petrescu's rock-bottom Dynamo Moscow, along with another familiar face to English football fans, Florent Sinama Pongolle.
The former Liverpool striker, who has a Russian wife, also managed to score Rostov's only goal in the following game, when they lost to Spartak 3-1.
But, despite this, it seems both players are enjoying their time in Russia.
“For the moment, the weather is still good, still warm. And I have nothing to complain,” Sinama Pongolle said.
“The language barrier can be difficult,” Bentley added. “But football is an international language. So football hasn’t been a problem, but sometimes off the pitch it can be a problem. But again, they’ve made me feel very welcome.”
Last season, Rostov finished 13th in the Russian Premier League and only survived the drop by winning a relegation play-off.
They're currently 12th after nine games, having won two and drawn three, but hope the additions of Bentley and Sinama Pongolle will have a positive impact on their play and position in the standings.