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28 Nov, 2008 08:12

Kazan rides high after Rubin victory

Kazan rides high after Rubin victory

The city of Kazan in central Russia was put firmly on the country’s football map when Rubin won this year’s Russian Premier League. That victory is in no small part due to head coach Kurban Berdyev, who rarely speaks to the media. But he made an exceptio

Berdyev is a very humble and religious man. You could say a mysterious one too, since he hardly ever talks to journalists. But after his team triumphed in the Russian Premier League he did agree to speak. The first thing we wanted to know was how a team from a provincial city could win the country's top football trophy.

“After the third game, when we won against Zenit in St. Petersburg I realised that our team could actually aim at something greater. I was even more certain after the seventh game when we won against Dynamo Moscow in the capital. Then I realised that we’d managed to build a really determined and ambitious team for the first time in many years. We’ve definitely had our failures, which had nonetheless proven our team’s perseverance,” Berdyev recalls.

Berdyev joined the club in 2001 when it was struggling in the lower divisions. In his first year he took the team to the premier league. In 2004 he became Rubin's vice-president. Many would agree that his arrival heralded the dawn of a golden decade for Kazan football.

“King for a day” – this is the thought of the majority of Russian football fans about Rubin's success. But Tatarstan residents would strongly disagree. After all, Kazan alone has at least five teams that compete on the top level in various Russian championships. And sport in the republic is strongly supported by President Mintimir Shaimiev.  His backing ensures there are all sorts of sporting opportunities for youngsters.

“The development of sport is, in my view, much more active in Tatarstan than in other parts of Russia. I’ll repeat it once again that all this is thanks to Mentimir Shaimiyev. Tatarstan, including Kazan, stands second only to Moscow in the development of sports,” says Berdyev.

For the first time in history, the club has earned the right to play in Europe's most prestigious tournament – the Champions League. Skeptics say Rubin aren't mature enough to compete there and predict devastating losses. But Berdyev is already thinking about the future saying his club will not be a push-over.

“Several positions in each line certainly have to be strengthened. I’ve already discussed it with the club’s president. He’s confirmed that as well. Time will tell what players we’ll get,” Berdyev said.

The party’s over – Russia’s football season comes to a close

CSKA claim silver in Russian Premier League
Dinamo moves one step closer to Champions League