Meet 'Sasha from Russia'
When Russia won its world cup bid, Sasha indeed woke up as something of a celebrity.
Sasha was the star of one of Russia's videos, produced to sway the FIFA committee's votes their way. Ball-juggling across the country, Sasha finds himself on a football pitch at a key moment and rises to the occasion.
So who is Sasha? Or more to the point, who are Sasha?
“I am Artyom and he is Maksim,” two boys introduce themselves to RT. They are Artyom and Maksim Shpinyov.
“There is no Sasha,” they continue. “He is just a character in the movie. They chose the name because it rhymes with Russia: Sasha-Russia.”
There was not much in the way of casting to become the joint face of Russia. The director wanted young identical twin footballers… and there are not many of them around.
“They called our dad, and told him they needed twins: because there wasn't much time it meant while one of us worked, the other one could sleep. And this is how we worked,” the twins explained.
It took four weeks to make and a lot of work. But the boys' father, an amateur player and his sons' first coach, says it was worth it.
“I am the happiest father on Earth. No joke!” Vadim Shpinyov says. “Russia won and my boys played a role too. I am so proud of them!”
He will be even prouder if his kids, now just young full-backs playing for a Moscow football club, ever take to the pitch in the colors of Russia's national team.
“If one day it happens – and I'll say it again in ten years – they'll do it for free, just for the pride of appearing in the shirt of the national team,” the boys’ father added.
In the video presentation, nine-year-old Sasha was shown dreaming of scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final. Artyom and Maxim hope that dream might come true for two 17-year-olds in 2018 during the tournament here in Russia.