He grew up in a criminal area, survived 8 concussions and became a relative of Shukshin: 10 facts about coach Oleg Romantsev

The leg­endary Spar­tak coach end­ed his foot­ball career ear­ly, but achieved great suc­cess as a coach.

Oleg Romant­sev is the most suc­cess­ful Russ­ian foot­ball coach. He has nine cham­pi­onship titles to his name. Romant­sev began his career as a defend­er of Spar­tak, after which he took over the team.

Childhood in a crime-ridden area and love for football

Romant­sev was born in the Ryazan vil­lage of Gavrilovskoye in ear­ly 1954, but the fam­i­ly often moved. The head of the fam­i­ly worked as an engi­neer for road con­struc­tion orga­ni­za­tions, climbed the career lad­der and made his way into the man­age­ment team. Moth­er worked as a cut­ter in a tai­lor shop.

Oleg went to school in Kyr­gyzs­tan — the chil­dren saw the Altai Moun­tains and the Kola Penin­su­la. In third grade, Romant­sev end­ed up in Kras­no­yarsk, a city he calls home.

Romant­sev had an old­er broth­er and sis­ter who left home ear­ly. My sis­ter mar­ried one of Vasi­ly Shukshin’s rel­a­tives, my broth­er went to col­lege and moved into a dor­mi­to­ry.

Dur­ing the hol­i­days, Romant­sev worked part-time at a house-build­ing plant as a load­er’s assis­tant, start­ing in the sixth grade. He dreamed of becom­ing a machin­ist — his fam­i­ly lived near the rail­way.

Romant­sev grew up in a dis­ad­van­taged area of ​​Kras­no­yarsk, but foot­ball saved him from crim­i­nal ten­den­cies. He start­ed play­ing in the yard, even using water polo balls.

Serious injury and coaching success at Spartak

Romant­sev made his debut as part of the Kras­no­yarsk team Avto­mo­bilist, for which he played in 1972–1976. Then he played for Spar­tak Moscow and was the cap­tain of this team, with which he won the USSR cham­pi­onship title in 1979.

Romant­sev spent 7 years in the ranks of Spar­tak, became the cham­pi­on of the USSR and won sil­ver medals in the cham­pi­onship three more times. He end­ed his career ear­ly (at 29 years old) due to a seri­ous injury.

Romant­sev suf­fered eight con­cus­sions and six frac­tures dur­ing his career. Accord­ing to coach Gen­nady Logofet, dur­ing a friend­ly match of the sec­ond nation­al team of the USSR against the first nation­al team of Mex­i­co, Romant­sev jumped unsuc­cess­ful­ly, fell on the lawn and was injured with dis­place­ment of the ver­te­brae.

In Jan­u­ary 1989, Romant­sev head­ed the Moscow Spar­tak, replac­ing Kon­stan­tin Beskov, who had a seri­ous con­flict with Niko­lai Starostin. The deci­sion to appoint a coach who had no expe­ri­ence at the high­est lev­el to such a respon­si­ble post seemed adven­tur­ous to many.

From 1984 to 2005, Romant­sev was involved in coach­ing, coach­ing main­ly var­i­ous Moscow teams (Spar­tak and Dynamo) and the Russ­ian nation­al team.

Most of Romant­sev’s coach­ing career was asso­ci­at­ed with Spar­tak Moscowwhose head coach he worked from 1989 to 2003 (includ­ing a break in 1996), win­ning eight Russ­ian cham­pi­onships and one USSR cham­pi­onship with him, thanks to which he became the most titled coach in the his­to­ry of Rus­sia.