Russian top scorer Kerzhakov gets offer from swamp football team

Russian top scorer Kerzhakov gets offer from swamp football team
Russian national team top scorer Aleksandr Kerzhakov has received an unofficial offer to come out of retirement to play for a team that recently became swamp football world champions.

Kerzhakov, 34, who announced his retirement last week, is the top Russian scorer of all-time on 233 career goals, including a record 30 for the national team.

While Russia is not known for being the most successful footballing nation, its teams sometimes achieve glory in less conventional forms of the ‘beautiful game’ – including swamp football.

According to the rules of swamp football, teams are represented by five players and a goalkeeper on the turf (or rather, dirt), with pitches 30 x 60 meters in size.

While each match lasts only 20 minutes (two halves of 10 minutes), players often say they are exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy movements in the mud, meaning substitutions are fairly frequent.

The most recent World Championships, which was played in Hyrynsalmi, Finland from 13 to 15 of July, saw Russian teams become champions in three different events – the men’s competition, men’s hobby and mixed teams tournament (where each team should include at least two female players).

Talking to Russian sports outlet sportbox.ru about his experience at the tournament, Mikhail Zelensky of Russian team St. Petersburg Lakes, which won the men's world title, invited retired Russian striker Kerzhakov to join the squad.

“I would like to address Aleksandr Kerzhakov. I would like to invite him to take a part in one of our swamp football matches,” said Zelensky.

“I am sure it will be an interesting experience for him,” he added.

He also stressed that swamp football is a great way to spend time outdoors with your friends.

“First, this sport is real exercise. Second, it’s fun. The World Championships is held annually in Finland and gathers up to 200-300 teams from Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Spain and England. It’s very unusual entertainment and a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors. Other than that, it’s nice to play in good swamps and it’s even good for your health. There are no leeches and frogs, it’s quite excellent mud,” he added.

Whether that ringing endorsement is enough to tempt Kerzhakov out of retirement remains to be seen.