During the break of the national team’s matches in Moscow, a match in memory of Ilya Tsymbalar was held on September 9 at the Otkritie Arena. For this event, true red and white legends gathered on the grass of the Spartak stadium, some of them even flew to the game from the other side of the world. For example, Louis Robson. The Brazilian was an important part of Oleg Romantsev’s team in the late 90s, he played more than 100 games with the Spartak shirt, in which he scored more than 30 goals.
After the match, the Brazilian found time to talk to a Soviet sports correspondent. In an exclusive interview he shared his impressions of the match, evaluated the current level of the Russian championship and said whether he was afraid to come to our country because of the latest events.
— Tell us your impressions of the match in memory of Ilya Tsymbalar, how difficult was it to return to the field at the age of 48, even in such a veteran format?
—The fact is that at the beginning of this year I had surgery on my knee, it has not yet completely stabilized. Therefore, the coaches and I agreed in advance that I would play about 10 minutes. Otherwise everything went well, I am glad to have been able to come and participate in a match like this dedicated to a great footballer.
Photo source: FC Spartak
— What were the emotions when you went out onto the field again in the Spartak shirt, saw the fans, were there flashbacks?
— I am living happy moments in my life, I am very grateful to those people who invited me and who still support the team. Spartak fans were always very supportive, there were quite a few of them. Of course, the memories came flooding back, I think this is inevitable in such cases. The period of my career that I spent at Spartak is very dear to me, it’s great to be here again.
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—After all the emotions you experienced, did you want to stay in Russia? Maybe they asked about working at the club?
“If there was an offer like that, I would gladly stay.” I like Russia, Moscow, I love Russians. Maybe I would consider getting citizenship if they made me that offer.
Photo source: FC Spartak
— Do you follow Russian football, do you watch Spartak matches?
— Yes, I watch broadcasts on the Internet. I am aware of what is happening here, I know the number of rounds, how Spartak performs. I like that there are still quality players in the Russian championship. You can enjoy watching many matches of the best teams.
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— Has the Russian championship become less attractive for the majority of strong foreign players due to the lack of European cups?
— For those who are used to European Cups, whether they are coaches or footballers, this, of course, is not enough. Of course, this affects the players. In this sense, we can say that Russian football has become poorer, and it shows. But, as I already said, there are many interesting players here, of European level.
— Do you think Spartak will be able to overcome the slight decline currently observed and compete for the championship?
— Soccer is a long game. I really hope that Spartak will improve the situation. Let’s not forget that this happens when you played well but lost. Perhaps this is the case. The championship is a very real goal, Spartak has a good squad and they can fight against Zenit without problems.
Andrey Anosov / Sovsport
—Wasn’t it scary to go to Russia now? For example, one of the legionnaires recently fled Moscow, saying that he feared for his life due to events related to the Northern Military District.
“There was no fear, they invited me and I came.” It’s simple. I also imagine where Russia is and where Ukraine is. The military operations are quite far from Moscow. I feel safe.
— Which player from Spartak’s main team impresses you the most, maybe reminds you of yourself?
—Maybe, Promes. He has already come to Russia for the second time, he has excellent equipment. He is a high level player, he could easily play in the top 5 leagues. I like him, maybe in some way he reminds me of myself.