RT kicks of its introduction of Russia’s Euro 2012 squad, with the man, who doesn’t really need one – the country’s best-known footballer and captain, Andrey Arshavin.
Full name: Andrey Sergeyevich Arshavin
Club: Zenit St. Petersburg
Caps for Russia: 68
Goals for Russia: 17
If somebody tells you that Russian fans pin their highest hopes on Andrey Arshavin at Euro 2012, it would not be true.
On the contrary, many would say that the national team may well cope without their captain, who simply didn’t deserve his place in Poland and Ukraine.
It’s hard to say what happened to Russia’s most-talented footballer during his stay at Arsenal.
He arrived at the Gunners as the club’s most expensive buy ever after an absolutely stunning display at Euro 2008.
And the Little Russian wasted no time in becoming the hero of the Londoners’ support, scoring four goals at Anfield and proving himself to be the most-effective player in the English Premier League.
But after a couple of seasons, it was easier to spot Arshavin in a soft drink or potato chips ad on TV than on the pitch in an Arsenal jersey.
First, he lost his confidence and then his place in the starting lineup, eventually to end up training with the reserves.
And his performance with the national team was no better than the one in the club. Arshavin has made ten appearances for Russia in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign – scoring zero goals.
His loan to his former club Zenit St. Petersburg this winter was more of a rehabilitation attempt for the 30-year-old, which seemed to have worked for the player.
At first, Arshavin looked quite poor with Russia’s top side (with some of teammates even demanding him off the squad), but in the last couple of months he – at long last – began to show glimpses of his former game.
He scored a couple of important goals and set up a number of others for his partners, including Roman Shirokov’s golden strike, which granted St. Pete the title.
Zenit’s coach, Luciano Spalletti, praises Arshavin’s talent, but adds that it’s unacceptable for his team’s player to relax and stop running after making one pass – even if it was absolutely ingenious.
Andrey’s place in the national team’s starting XI isn’t at all in question as Russia’s coach Dick Advocaat has full trust in the forward, with whom he won the Russian League in 2007 and the UEFA Cup a year later.
Taking his age into account, Arshavin must understand that Euro 2012 is, possibly, his last chance to regain his former greatness.
“Russia looks the favorite in their Euro 2012 group [together with Poland, the Czech Republic and Greece]. We’re a bit stronger than the rest,” Arshavin told Rossiya 2 channel. “And if we don’t progress from this group we’re in deep sh*t… But if we get through everything will be fine.”
If the Little Russian wants to be big again he has to get one important ingredient back – his dedication.
If that happens Team Russia would again recieve a true leader and a player, who can do anything on the football pitch.
Dmitry Gorshkov, RT