Coach backs Smolov’s EPL move
MOSCOW: Striker Fedor Smolov, is a rising star in Russian football with the potential and ambition to play in a top league abroad such as the English Premier League, and has the support of his coach.
Smolov’s tap-in clinched a crucial 2-0 victory in Saturday’s Confederations Cup opener over New Zealand in front of a crowd of 50 000 in St Petersburg, including President Vladimir Putin, and he was declared man of the match.
“It is the first step to the English Premier League now,” Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said afterwards.
Speaking to reporters after the match in fluent English, Smolov presented a modest expression of hope for further success at the Confed Cup, which Russia is hosting after a lacklustre national team performance at the European championship last year.
“I hope that we make our supporters and fans happy, not only with the result but with the performance as well,” Smolov said, with European champions Portugal and Mexico their other group stage opponents.
Charismatic with good form both on the field and off, Smolov is somewhat of a Russian David Beckham.
The 27-year-old from Russian Premier League side Krasnodar was briefly married to model and TV star Victoria Lopyreva, a former Miss Russia who has been promoting next year’s World Cup. For two consecutive seasons, Smolov has been the top scorer in the Russian league. Smolov told Saturday’s edition of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that he is ready for a new challenge and looking to move to “one of the top four leagues” within the next few months. “Let’s be honest: the European leagues are better and stronger, and if players are playing on a higher level it means we are better prepared for the national team,” Smolov told the newspaper. – dpa