15 to 1.

The new hero of the author’s col­umn “SE” is the ex-strik­er of Arse­nal and the Russ­ian nation­al team, who 15 years ago — on April 21, 2009 — achieved a unique achieve­ment: he scored four goals against Liv­er­pool at Anfield.

Eng­land. Pre­mier League. 33rd round

April 21, 23:00. Anfield (Liv­er­pool)




Is April 1 – 21 a spe­cial day for you?

- No. I don’t remem­ber it or cel­e­brate it. Only jour­nal­ists do not let us for­get about pok­er against Liv­er­pool. It’s like a round date — a lot of calls at once. This was the case now and in 2019.

Recent­ly my daugh­ter Yana turned 16 years old. I came across a video on social net­works — on April 3, 2008, when she was born, I scored for Zen­it in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the UEFA Cup against Bay­er and “rocked the cra­dle.” To be hon­est, this moment touch­es me much more.

2 — When was the last time you rewatched the match at Anfield?

- Entire­ly? Nev­er. And goals creep out on social net­works from time to time. Most­ly in Eng­lish.

It’s fun­ny lis­ten­ing to the Sky Sports com­men­ta­tor describe my fourth goal. How­ev­er, then no one, includ­ing me, believed that I would score. More pre­cise­ly, in the 90th minute I ran from my own penal­ty area to some­one else’s, over­tak­ing Wal­cott. That he will give me the ball. That I will hit and hit.

3 — Before the inter­view, I refreshed my mem­o­ry of your goals. What caught my eye was that after the hat-trick you showed three fin­gers and then spread your arms to the sides in bewil­der­ment. Soon the pic­ture repeat­ed itself — with four fin­gers. So what was it? Insight?

- Yes, what an insight… Just a lucky coin­ci­dence. Four shots on goal — four goals!

Although it can­not be said that every­thing was easy. The first half was not very good at all — both for me and for Arse­nal. But then Fab­re­gas made such a pass that it was dif­fi­cult not to score.

The sec­ond goal is a can­non. Almost in Kolod­in’s style. Third — I was lucky that the ball bounced towards me in the penal­ty area. Well, the fourth… It is impor­tant that you have the strength left for the 70-meter dash. Still, it was the 90th minute. Some­times I think: have I run faster in my life than in that episode? Prob­a­bly not.

“He’s on the same lev­el as Mes­si and Ronal­do!” How Arshavin con­quered Eng­land

4 — Why didn’t you keep the T‑shirt from that match?

- Here’s the sto­ry. At the Sme­na school I was coached by Sergei Gordeev. He col­lects T‑shirts with num­ber 9. Under which Fer­nan­do Tor­res played for Liv­er­pool. Even before the match, I decid­ed that I would swap with the Spaniard and bring this jer­sey to Gordeev for his birth­day. That’s what I did. Which I don’t regret at all. I have nev­er made a cult out of things.

Some­one from the Arse­nal head­quar­ters grabbed the game ball from Anfield, all the guys signed it and gave it to me. But I have no idea where he is now. Per­haps he stayed with Yulia, his first wife. Like the stat­uette that I was award­ed at the end of April, rec­og­niz­ing me as the play­er of the month in the Pre­mier League, and my medals, includ­ing from Euro 2008…

After the divorce, Julia took every­thing! I don’t have any sad feel­ings about this. Well, stu­pid­i­ty, and that’s all.

Andrei Arshavin in the match against Liv­er­pool.
Pho­to by Get­ty Images

5 — While play­ing for Arse­nal, you men­tioned that you could only buy a cou­ple of cans of beer with your bonus for the vic­to­ry over Sun­der­land. How much was added to the score for the draw with Liv­er­pool?

- I didn’t even get into it. At Arse­nal, sub­stan­tial bonus­es were award­ed for first place and access to the Cham­pi­ons League. If they paid for indi­vid­ual games, it was at a min­i­mum. I won’t give spe­cif­ic fig­ures, but the amounts are very mod­est. In the youth team, Valery Gaz­za­ev said in such cas­es: “This is for your seeds…” He meant the dai­ly allowance that they gave us.

6 — You includ­ed Guus Hid­dink, Yuri Moro­zov and Dick Advo­caat in the top three coach­es you have encoun­tered in your career. What qual­i­ties did Arsene Wenger lack to get there?

— Wenger is great, with­out ques­tion! I high­light­ed those coach­es with whom I achieved suc­cess. This does not mean that Arsen is worse than Gus or Dick. It just hap­pened that way in my career.

What is Wenger’s phi­los­o­phy? He likes young play­ers more, it’s eas­i­er for him to work with them. And I moved to Arse­nal at 27 years old. If we talk about the train­ing process, I’m clos­er to what Hid­dink and Advo­caat prac­ticed. “Squares”, exer­cis­es for hold­ing the ball, shots on goal, and then a foot­ball game. All! In my opin­ion, the best option.

“Arshavin is one of those rare Russ­ian play­ers who suc­ceed­ed in the West.” Decline of a career at Arse­nal

And Wenger paid a lot of atten­tion to mod­el­ing the game, prac­tic­ing com­bi­na­tions with­out resis­tance. Some­times there was no time left for foot­ball. It hap­pened that at the end of train­ing it would give a series of jerks — and we’d go to the lock­er room. And I think: “It would be bet­ter if we played foot­ball.” At least across the field. Or from penal­ty to penal­ty area. Yes, there are dif­fer­ent for­mats…

What hap­pened in the end? If you don’t make it into Arse­nal’s start­ing line­up, you can train for a week and nev­er play foot­ball! I don’t under­stand this approach.

7 — For­mer Arse­nal team­mates remem­ber you from time to time. Emmanuel Ade­bay­or claims you once watched porn dur­ing half-time of a match. And William Gal­las accused you of lazi­ness and said that you gave 20–30 per­cent of your effort in train­ing. What did you think when every­one heard this?

- I do not care. Let them say what they want. By the way, about porn, that’s not true. And Gal­las’ words… If he real­ly thinks so, it’s his right. But I always did what I could in any team.

Andrei Arshavin in a match against the Nether­lands at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in 2008.
Pho­to by Alexan­der Fedorov, “SE”

8 — It’s clear that the match with Liv­er­pool is the best for you. And num­ber two?

— I don’t con­sid­er the match at Anfield the best of my career. I put the quar­ter­fi­nals with Hol­land at Euro 2008 in first place.

These match­es are incom­pa­ra­ble in impor­tance and ten­sion. We played a draw with Liv­er­pool, which by and large did not affect any­thing. And my goals… The tech­ni­cal equip­ment helped to use the episodes that were there. Plus luck.

It’s not for noth­ing that he lat­er said in an inter­view: “It’s cool that this hap­pened for the first time. It’s bad that it’s the last one.” That is, I under­stood per­fect­ly well that I was not good enough to make anoth­er pok­er game in the Pre­mier League.

Rus­si­a’s best sum­mer: vic­to­ry over the Dutch, Arshav­in’s extrav­a­gan­za and the Euro semi-final

The game against Hol­land is per­ceived com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent­ly. I won’t say that there was an epiphany. But I was inspired, a lot worked out. And in extra time I had to break myself, phys­i­cal­ly these 30 min­utes were very dif­fi­cult. But we put the pres­sure on the oppo­nent, snatched vic­to­ry and won bronze.

9 — Recall­ing the pok­er game at Anfield, you said: “Per­haps some­day they will make a film about this sto­ry.” If you were choos­ing an actor to play your­self, who would you choose?

— Well, who is most in demand in Rus­sia today? Alexan­der Petrov and Pavel Derevyanko. One of them would prob­a­bly have played. Both are short and sim­i­lar in build to me.

But, to be hon­est, I don’t care whether there will be such a movie, who will be called to play the main role… Noth­ing depends on me here. Even if it doesn’t come to a film adap­ta­tion at all, noth­ing bad will hap­pen.

Alexan­der Golovin.
Pho­to by AFP

10 — Is there a foot­baller in Rus­sia today who can play for Arse­nal?

- Golovin — one hun­dred per­cent! He’s in his prime now. I think Zakharyan and Pinyaev have good chances. Tal­ent­ed guys with great poten­tial. If Kuzyaev were five years younger, he would have named him too. But Daler is already 31, at this age it is dif­fi­cult to count on an invi­ta­tion to a top Pre­mier League club.

11 — Your 11-year-old son Arse­ny, who trains at the Spar­tak acad­e­my, scored at a recent tour­na­ment for the Oleg Romant­sev prizes with a direct kick from the cor­ner. Has there been at least one “dry leaf” in your life?

- On a pro­fes­sion­al lev­el — no. There were attempts because he often took cor­ners. But then he hit the cross­bar, then the near post, then the goal­keep­er came to the res­cue.

And in my child­hood I scored a cou­ple of times — while there were lit­tle pen­cils in the “frame”. We played on the entire field, with large goals. At that time there was no 7 on 7 for­mat and no small goal into which Arseniy spun the ball.

First reac­tion when you saw your son’s goal? Yes, I was just hap­py for him. I don’t under­stand why there is such a fuss about this goal. Prob­a­bly the whole point is that Arseny’s last name is Arshavin. Anoth­er rea­son to call me and ask me to com­ment. And the guy doesn’t need to be teased. He plays calm­ly — and thank God.

12 — On tele­vi­sion you are one of the main foot­ball experts. At Zen­it he is Deputy Gen­er­al Direc­tor for Sports Devel­op­ment. You are still study­ing at the RFU Acad­e­my and will soon become the hold­er of a coach­ing license A. Where do you see your­self in five years?

“I don’t know how fate will turn out.” Now I’m inter­est­ed in every­thing — both work at Zen­it and tele­vi­sion. As for the coach­ing pro­fes­sion, you first need to get a license, and then think about some options.

I used to say that I don’t see myself as a coach. Espe­cial­ly for chil­dren. But in 2019, at the Zen­it acad­e­my, I became an assis­tant to Dmit­ry Polyakov in the team born in 2004, and I real­ly liked it. Cool expe­ri­ence! We also man­aged to win a tro­phy — the St. Peters­burg Cup.

Some­times the broad­cast in the stu­dio end­ed at one in the morn­ing, and at 6 in the morn­ing I went from Moscow to St. Peters­burg on the first “Sap­san”, took a taxi at the sta­tion and rushed to the boys for train­ing. If I didn’t feel the thrill of work, of course, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Andrey Arshavin and Vladimir Bystrov.
Pho­to by Daria Isae­va, “SE”

13 — What is the best book that has come into your hands over the past year?

— Oh… It seems to me that when I fin­ished my career and returned from Kaza­khstan in Novem­ber 2018, I didn’t read a sin­gle book. Work­ing at Zen­it and on tele­vi­sion takes a lot of time, you have to watch a lot of match­es. Plus study­ing at the RFU Acad­e­my, con­stant trav­el­ing… When I get into the Sap­san ear­ly in the morn­ing, I either sleep or turn on some­thing on YouTube.

In gen­er­al, I am far from Zhirkov. So he won’t part with the book. The oth­er day I walked into the lock­er room of the hock­ey media team “Pure Peter”, for which he and I play, and Yura was sit­ting in the cor­ner, calm­ly read­ing a book. I wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­prised, but the guys who don’t know him well were amazed. The name is also omi­nous: “Pro­fes­sion is death.” SS train­ing camp “Travni­ki”. Crimes and ret­ri­bu­tion.” Author: Aron Schneer.

“Today Rus­sia is told to play with­out a flag and anthem, tomor­row — with­out a T‑shirt and shorts.” Sharp inter­view with Arshavin

14 — Was Zhe­glov right when he tossed the wal­let to Kir­pich?

“If you had asked this ques­tion when I was lit­tle, I would have answered with­out think­ing: “Of course, I’m right!” Iron!” Now I am still on Zheglov’s side, but I already under­stand that not every­thing is so sim­ple.

I’m not talk­ing about Brick. It’s clear with him. He is a thief, his place is in prison. But a per­son of whose guilt is not one hun­dred per­cent cer­tain may also find him­self in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. And accord­ing to the same scheme, they will plant evi­dence on him. It is unac­cept­able.

15 — Three “I don’t like” of your choice.

- From food — boiled veg­eta­bles. I also hate snakes. Even touch­ing them is unpleas­ant. Well, third­ly… No mat­ter how strange it may sound from a St. Peters­burg­er, I don’t like cloudy weath­er. Espe­cial­ly when it rains and the wind from the bay hits you in the face.