Russian goalkeeper Artyom Leonov, who has been defending the Minsk goal for a season and a half, spoke about his sporting path and his impressions of our country and football.
” In Russia, many criticized the level of the Belarusian championship. What do you think of the league?
– There are 3-4 teams here that could play in the RPL. The other clubs are the level of the NFL. As for the criticism, first of all, at the start of the championship they played on artificial fields, the teams just rolled in. Now 10 rounds have passed, the performance has increased, the teams have played, moved to natural fields. We must not forget about the picture. In Russia, better stadiums – after the World Cup and in general, there are no treadmills. It looks much nicer on TV, more cameras. Plus few spectators for obvious reasons, the hype is similar to a friendly game. It’s all affecting.
– At the start of the season you missed from a corner from BATE. What happened there?
“My mistake, nothing more. Any direct goal from a corner is a goalkeeper’s mistake. How do I feel after that? Basically, it’s normal. Unpleasant, of course, but it is part of life and work. There is no drama, analyzed, spat, rubbed and went on.
“You moved to Belarus in the summer of 2019. The main impression of the country?
“Only pleasant ones. Mentality is almost no different, all comfortable, short-sighted departures, when compared with the NFL and RPL. The maximum is three hours. What are the differences? Maybe people are a little more neat and friendly when compared to Moscow. I have never faced conflicts in a year. Cleaner on the streets. I didn’t hear anyone get fined, but I didn’t come across overcrowded trash cans or a bunch of stuffing stuff.
What were the conditions in Orenburg, where did you start?
” My grandfather took me to the section, he was a master of sports in chess, so he sent chess and checkers to the section first. I even won the city championship until I was 7-8 years old. But then I realized: not my story.
There were no special conditions, I was studying at the Gazovica JUSH, now the club is called Orenburg. We had one artificial field for 5-7 ages. Until the age of 12 he studied there, and then invited to the Academy named Konoplev.
By the way, the field is still in place, I see when I pass by. He’s 15-20 years old, and he’s never been re-lined. It looks very, very black, unlike on the field already. Some pieces are torn off and sewn anew – 11-meter mark, goalkeeper. Depressing quality. I understand the kids are still doing it.
Who impressed most at the Konoplev Academy? The best in the country at the time.
I think Dima Ryzhov. The academy already had a second league team, we 12-13-year-olds went to watch. Yes, Alan Dzagoev also stood out, but Ryzhov (three years was at CSKA, almost did not play, now in the championship of Armenia) and Fedorov (a year was in CSKA in the second team, the last club – “Lada” from Togliatti.) were people just with crazy health. It seemed that they would definitely play big football.
“In 2012, when you were 17 years old, many people learned about you after Spalletti’s words, the Italian praised him very much. Surprised?
I didn’t pay any attention. I was just starting to play in the second league, at the end of the season I was called up to watch in the club. It was important for me to stay there or understand why it didn’t work out. And all the laudatory or negative words, not backed up by the case, did not bring emotions. There was no stellar disease, on the contrary, this story had an unpleasant finish. At that stage I didn’t get where I wanted to.
“Then you said in an interview that “Malafeev is in his 30s, so his best years are over.” Were there consequences?
“I was a young inexperienced guy who had never been interviewed before. It was the first days in the “senit”, came, passed a medical examination, a correspondent came to me, I do not remember now, from which edition. Completely kovlized my words. I said something like this: “I would like to become the same goalkeeper as Vyacheslav Malafeev, to achieve these heights. And in the future it will be replaced.” The context was like this.
You see, what was my surprise when I come to dinner and see how all the guys read the newspaper, where my face and big letters written: “I am stronger than Malafeev.” Of course, it was unpleasant, I had to make excuses somewhere. He approached the goalkeeping coach Biryukov and explained the situation. I don’t know if he believed me or not. At one of the first training sessions he approached Slava Malafeev, also explained everything. He said that he would just be more attentive, asked for the text to be checked, edited and did not make such mistakes in the future. I was good-natured, I thought he was a young guy, and they played on it somewhere.
– Why didn’t you sign a contract with the club in the end?
“Honestly, I have no idea. When I came back from the third training camp, the general director of the academy came up to me and said, “How did you contact this agent?” I was cooperating with Sergey Pushkin at that time. These are the only words I got after watching. Then I called the agent, asked him to explain whether they were taking me or not. He said, “Wait a while, you’ll go to see them in the summer.” It’s a incomprehensible situation. I don’t know if football is a matter of business or agency, but the only way out is to start with yourself.
He returned to the second league, began to finish the season, he was just a transitional. There was an injury – a dislocated elbow joint. The agent began to adjust, they say, come on, we have to go to the “Senit”. I recovered as quickly as possible, went to the first training camp, and, in my opinion, on the third training session after a powerful blow from close range (if I am not mistaken, igor Denisov beat) – elbow tear, the same ligaments. So the training camp for me ended. I realized that it would not work with the club.
“After that, you changed agent – began to work with Alan Aguzarov. Why?
– With Pushkin the contract was coming to an end, I decided not to renew it. Just broke up, so to speak. There were no breaks. At that time, the Konoplev Academy was already falling apart, funding was dwindling, and up to the bid window 3 months. Aguzarov came to me and offered to go to Spartak.
He trained with the main squad, but at that time Anton Mitryushkin became the European champion with his age. I was told bluntly that we have our young talent, I’m sorry. We’re going to pull him up. I understood them, it is quite logical, especially Anton a couple of years younger than me. As a result, I went to Krasnodar and signed a contract there.
– Journalist Anton Makhashenok reported that the transfer to Spartak was almost agreed, but the agent allegedly asked the club for 500,000 euros in commission.
I don’t know anything like that. The agent said that Mitryushkin won the European Championship, and a bet is placed on him. It sounded logical.
“Are you cooperating with Aguzarov now?
“No, they worked with him for a couple of years and stopped. We’re quietly separated. They had no serious claims.
What does Galitsky remember in Krasnodar?
– Simplicity, came to training, put on large rubber galoshes and in a solid suit came on the field, joked with everyone, greeted. A very friendly and loving person.
Why did you stay at Krasnodar for a year?
“I’m such a person that I can’t sit and wait for my chance. When I came, I understood that I would be the third goalkeeper, and I would start playing for the second team, but something went wrong. You know, in “Krasnodar” there is such a feature – they love their pupils very much. When they go to the second team or the understudy team, the coaches are not very happy for you. They would like only their pupils to play. Such an interesting stage. I realized that many coaches are not very happy to me, that to get to the first number can only be in a very long time, and he wanted to play. I started looking for something else.
– In 2016 you went to the second league of Croatia. How did that happen?
– To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the league at all. I was told, “Is there an option, ready”? “Ready.” I didn’t have time to get a family, so I can fly anywhere in the ball, if I’m interested, and it has a benefit in terms of football.
How do they feel about the Russians? If you enter in the search engine “why in Croatia…”, the first among popular queries will be – “… they don’t like the Russians.”
“I didn’t face open aggression and hostility, but they looked at me and kept me at a distance. Some certain distrust was felt. I was there for six months, I became friends with many people, but I felt distance and danger from many. Not to say that I was very welcome there.
” Is there really a lot of sports fields everywhere in Croatia that are always busy?
One hundred percent. You go, and every school, kindergarten has playgrounds. More often asphalt, gravel, but children absolutely do not care. I saw how in the backyard of the supermarket workers (they are 30-40 years old) put boxes, took a plucked ball and played football. There’s a lot of that.
– What about attendance in the second league?
That’s good. Stadiums for 2-4 thousand spectators, I think, filled the interest by 50-60. There was no such thing that you come to the game, and there are 6 people sitting. People go to football. They still have around the stadiums small bars, somewhere sell beer, it seems, people revolve around these places.
– The Balkans are very hot fans. Felt?
“After the game, you go, for example, to have lunch, and you could catch, start shouting. I learned them in the first week. Pretty impulsive people, for a word in the pocket will not fit. If you did something wrong on the pitch, wait for swearing in your direction. In principle, as in Russia, is not much different.
– Ivan Enin, who plays in Bosnia, told how the footballer was left with a note: “Once again, you will play like this, break your car.” Did you have something like that?
“There is no such thing. But sometimes, it came to conflicts – after a bad game the fan could easily catch on with the player. People were dragging them out. If they were not stopped, they could calmly decide on their fists behind the stadium. A couple of times in all the time there were such skirmishes.
“Why did they return to Russia?
“It’s hard for one in another country. In Croatia, the guys didn’t speak English very well, and I knew 10 words from Croatian. There is not enough Russian speech, the opportunity to talk to someone, the same thing – training, home. Therefore, when the offer came from Mordovia, I immediately decided to return.
What’s the hardest part in the NFL?
“Many people are afraid of the financial instability of clubs, it is a common phenomenon. But the hardest, probably, flights. Because of this, there is no weekly training cycle as such, I trained for about two days, about three days. Plus time zone shifts are regular. It is clear that Russia is a big country, it is huge, there is no big sense to complain about it, but there is such a factor.
“You’ve only been to SKA-Khabarovsk for a couple of months. What happened?
– I was invited by the goalkeeping coach with whom I worked at Mordovia. The chief immediately indicated that the play will be different, you need to wait for a chance. It took 7-8 rounds, went steadily at the top of the table, but suddenly decided to change the entire coaching staff. The new coach brought his players, including the goalkeeper. I had to make room for it, it turned out to be mine. Everything in a matter of days decided.
What is the main goal now?
– To get in and play in the RPL. I think everything is real, we need to work and show the result.
According to the materials of the site – https://matchtv.ru