– Before you came to Palermo and became the sports director of Spartak, you worked as a journalist. Why did you decide to become a functionary?
– It was the easiest way to get in touch with football. Then I had the opportunity to get inside this world.
– That is, this is the story of a boy who wanted to become a football player, but for some reason could not do it and is looking for ways to be closer to what he loves?
– My dream of becoming a professional footballer ended very quickly. I had no talent, no good game thinking, and also lacked dedication and determination. I quickly realized that I was just wasting my time, but the passion for football remained. For me, this is not a sport, but a lifestyle.
– When you became a journalist, was there a plan that you had to fulfill in order to get inside the industry, or was it not?
– The most important thing was to do the job that I love and be in football. And only then the opportunities opened up. In the end, I managed to come to my main goal. Now I am happy with the way my career is developing. I managed to quickly get into football and stay in it.
– Could you single out two or three acquaintances that helped you immerse yourself in football and changed your thinking when you did not work at the club yet?
– There were many such people. When I worked as a journalist, I specialized in transfers, so I had many contacts that helped. 14 years have passed since then. I started out with the Palermo scouting service and I had to keep an eye on one Ghanaian striker who was playing in the UAE at the time.
– Who would be singled out in “Palermo” as your teachers?
– This is Walter Sabatini. It was a great success to work with him. He is simply a top professional and one of the best at talent identification. A couple of seasons ago, we met by chance. I had to watch PSG’s next opponent in the Champions League. It was Atalanta. She had a match with Bologna, in which Sabatini worked. It’s hard to make me cry, but when I saw Walter after so many years, it gave me great joy. After the match, we had dinner with him and talked about different topics.
– Is Dybala’s invitation to Palermo your main career victory?
– I do not want to ascribe any merit to myself. I have worked in different clubs. If we talk about my personal victories, then this is Spartak. To get such a position and gain the trust of such a club … I don’t think what kind of players I discovered or helped to sign. I would like to say that the best player I will open is yet to come.
– It is necessary to restrict the players from pressure and are you going to do this in Spartak? And will it be more difficult for a Moscow club to find players with a winning mentality than for PSG?
– The footballers themselves know what awaits them. Of course, the task of the club is to protect the players in every possible way and make them think only about the match and the result. But it is simply impossible to isolate one hundred percent. Therefore, before inviting a football player, you need to understand how you will work with him later. The main work begins after the signing of the contract.
– How did you receive an offer from Spartak, and were there any moments that confused you?
– Not. Nothing bothered me. But I thought it would be easy to leave PSG, but they didn’t want to let me go. Initially, I had no desire to leave PSG. In addition to Spartak, there were several more options, but I immediately dismissed them. And the variant with Spartak became special. Spartak acted very decisively, that’s why I agreed to come here.
– Did you take part in getting Vanoli to become the head coach of Spartak?
– “Spartak” asked to prepare information on what the club should be and what points can be improved. I prepared detailed information, indicated a list of possible acquisitions, those players who should be monitored, with whom the contract should be renewed, and suggested an organizational model. Then I waited for feedback, but did not receive an answer. And later I saw the answer on the football field. Although I was not told yes or no, I realized that the club accepted my offers and that is why I am here. As for Vanoli, he and I worked at Chelsea at the same time, but we didn’t know each other then. We met just now. He has an understanding of his path. The exactingness that Vanoli will bring to Spartak will be at the highest level. I am very optimistic. He is attentive to detail. Vanoli may sound picky, but it isn’t. Just working on the little details will get you a lot.
– How did you find Svinov, who played in the second league?
– According to Svinov’s candidacy, the word of Artyom Rebrov was decisive. It’s not about which league the goalkeeper came from. We may be interested in guys from the third division. You shouldn’t be intimidated by the fact that Svinov played in the FNL.
– As for Khlusevich, what qualities attracted him?
– The speed and distance that he runs while accelerating. He has good physical characteristics.
– One of the main troubles of our football, many consider the limit on legionnaires. What do you think of it?
– It is not in my competence. The limit has both pros and cons. The presence of legionnaires has a positive effect on development, but can create difficulties for Russian players.
– Spartak has Sobolev, Larsson, Ponce. Why was it necessary to buy Nicholson?
– Don’t think that if Sobolev is tall and Nicholson is tall, then only one will play. The guys have different characteristics. And here I must also say about a specific moment when I came to the club. There was a performance problem. It is obvious.