Maksim Mikhailov: ''There is a mixture of Tatar and Russian blood in Kazan. It is difficult to understand the mentality''

Maksim Mikhailov: ''There is a mixture of Tatar and Russian blood in Kazan. It is difficult to understand the mentality'' Photo: Roman Kruchinin zenit-kazan.com

Today opposite hitter of Zenit-Kazan and national volleyball team of Russia Maksim Mikhailov seems to be one the best players in his position. He debuted in the national team aged 20, won a bronze in the World Series and at the Olympics in Beijing and became the best player of the team. In the second part of the big exclusive interview of Realnoe Vremya, he tells a woman's must-have things, the difference of Kazan from Saint Petersburg. The first part was published yesterday.

'Talent probably is how you understand information''

The Games in Beijing were even cooler for you. You were just 20 years, right? And you immediately became the best player of our national team having scored 127 points! How can you explain it?

I would not say I was the best. Points in volleyball are not the main indicator. There is efficiency, many other nuances. First of all, motivation helped me, I tried to show myself. In addition, we had a very close-knit team at that moment, everybody supported each other. It is easy to play, grow and show everything you can do in such a team.

I can't help but ask you a philosophic question again. Do you believe in the theory of Mozart and Salieri when one does his best but remains a middling artist, while the other one can wake up at midnight and write a genius sonata with his left feet because he has talent. Can this explain such a bright debut?

I think everybody has talent to a certain degree. Some people has it more, some people – less. You will get a result depending on how you develop it. As I understand, it is done through work. Talent probably is how you understand information. If a person understands everything fast, he will grow. If he doesn't understand what the coach wants, what he needs to do, it will be hard for him any sport even if he jumps high and kicks powerfully.

Why did you stay in Yaroslavl after such a powerful season in the national team?

First of all, I had a contract in force. Secondly, we had a good team. If earlier Yaroslavl was always an outsider, at that moment, there was a possibility to fight for top places. In addition, even if you had a good season in the national team, it doesn't mean you will be able to play at great clubs. It was necessary to play for one or two seasons, not to seat on the bench.

As I understand, it is done through work. Talent probably is how you understand information. If a person understands everything fast, he will grow

Don't you want to try to play in Europe?

To tell the truth, I like everything here. We have a good strong championship. I am not sure that Europe has so many strong and cool teams like in Russia. I am sure that the change of atmosphere is not always for the good.

What about Italy? The life is comfortable, climate is amazing, the championship is powerful…

It is powerful. But many Europeans play there, here we have many young players. It is the main advantage for the national team of Russia. Here you train some combinations. You will be alone there. It doesn't mean everything will be fine. It takes time to adapt in a new place.

''Woman must look after herself and be merry. Girls from Dinamo are merry''

Once a long time ago you told you acquainted with a girl on the Internet. Now you are married to a Yaroslavl restorer's granddaughter Anastasia Galotina. How did your relations develop?

We acquainted when I was in a camp. We wrote each other for a long time, could not meet in life because I was in another city. This is why when I came, we managed to see. This is how it began.

We had to meet. But it takes time to know a girl. They have their own schedule, we have our own. Games and training are at different time, we almost see each other

What are the main criteria in a woman that are important for your first of all?

First of all, she must be smart. I don't like silly people. You will live and talk to them every day. She must be beautiful. It shows a girl's attitude to herself. The beauty is not to be necessarily natural. But the girl must look after herself. She must be merry, it is another very important criterion for me. She must joke and understand jokes.

Girls from Dinamo-Kazan very often come to your matches. Do they meet these criteria?

As for the sense of humour, yes. We had to meet. But it takes time to know a girl. They have their own schedule, we have our own. Games and training are at different times, we almost see each other.

Do your fans often bother you?

Now less. Now there can be only fans of my game. If earlier I was not married, there were offers to meet, have a cup of coffee, go for a walk. Now they ask to present a T-shirt, sign an autograph, take a photo, congratulate on a victory. They have questions about the games again.

'If in Petersburg, people are kind, in Kazan, some people cause negative emotions''

You have been living in Kazan for a long time. How do you spend your time with your family? Do you visit other sports events?

I would stress hockey from sports events, of course. Especially now when the play-off has begun. We used to go to watch hockey often. Now we have less time, the baby was born. As a family man, I like the Gorky Park very much. It is pleasant to go for a walk outside, there are vocal fountains, it is just a pleasant place. I also like the centre, Baumana and Peterbugskaya Streets. Now I visit these places less, I used to live near.

Which hockey team do you support? Same Petersburg?

I started to love hockey when I was living in Yaroslavl. I have many acquaintances who work at Lokomotiv from Yaroslavl. Now I support them. I saw how the city loves this team, how they support it. The city lives with hockey. They gather at the arena like ants. People play hockey a lot on ice rinks.

Can you compare the second and the third capitals of Russia as a citizen of Petersburg who has been living in Kazan for a long time?

I think the difference is colossal. Petersburg has a great deal of historical places. Even not in the very city but in neighbouring cities. There is lots of centuries-old culture. You understand it especially in summer when you visit some Petergof. Kazan is also beautiful. But it is limited to a certain number of churches, the Kremlin, etc. There is a greater diversity in Petersburg. The statuses are different. Anyway, Petersburg and Moscow are our two big major cities. But Kazan is developing, of course. It must be paid tribute, it maintains its reputation. There is a difference, but it reduces year after year.

Do you feel any difference in people? People from Petersburg are especial.

Yes, the difference is perceptible. People are different there, kinder. Even you are in the underground, and somebody pushes you, he or she will certainly say they're sorry, always help and advise. They are calmer, the rhythm is different from Moscow. In comparison with Kazan, there is a mixture of Tatar and Russian blood here. It is difficult to understand the mentality completely. If in Petersburg, people are kind, in Kazan, some people cause negative emotions. But I think it is rather an exception. Now it is becoming calmer.

''There is nothing more pleasant than a victory''

Let's start with a direct question. Tell the truth, do you find it interesting to play at such a super club when the team has 26 victories in a row? Maybe it only seems that everything is easy.

It only seems, of course. There is a fight in every away match. We flew to Surgut recently. Even if we won there, we won in a fight. For me, it is very important to play at a club that has ambitious targets and often wins. To be honest, there is nothing more pleasant than a victory.

For me, it is very important to play at a club that has ambitious targets and often wins. To be honest, there is nothing more pleasant than a victory

How do you personally find motivation when you know beforehand that, anyway, you will win this rival without problems?

It is an individual thing. For me, first of all, there is a rule that if you take a step back, the rival will take a step forward or even two steps. That is to say, if you became weaker, relaxed, lost an outsider, in the next leg, you will play against a team whose level is similar, and it will understand that Zenit can win. If you win the outsider without any chances, they will look at you as if you were a giant, great club and play against you with anxiety.

Isn't Vladimir Alekno tired of repeating like, come on, guys, don't lose your grip even if guys from the backwater came?

Of course, not. He has been working in sport for a long time. He knows that now volleyball and sport, in general, are at such a level that if you don't show your game, especially in an away match, any team will be able to fight and win. First of all, coach motivates his players, so that they will do their best.

Once you were the captain at Zenit. Were not you hurt when you were substituted?

No, we have a general vote, and it is fair. The role in the team is not important for me. Our captain, first of all, is a link between the team and the coach. Anybody can become the leader on the court. It is rather a nominal title.

Do you have a bad link with the coach?

We acquainted a long time ago. We understand what we need, what I need to do, when it is necessary to condescend, so to speak.

Are you a leader by nature? Can you lead a team?

I would not say that the captain is the leader on the court. Captain is a leader outside the court. It is clear that I try to help in all games, I am highly motivated. I would not say that I am a sociable fellow outside the court. To unite, gather, celebrate a birthday is not my cup of tea. It is also important because we spend much time together in life. This is why captain must be a leader both on the court and outside it.

First of all, coach motivates his players, so that they will do their best

What do you do outside the court?

We have quite many trips. We often have a lunch together, talk in the changing room for a long time. At times, we gather for New Year parties or birthdays. It is very important how to hold it, invite people and organise.

What kind of men's talks do you have in the changing room or in the restaurant if it is not a secret?

We don't have common interests, we divide into groups of interests like everywhere. Somebody discusses sports events from other sports, somebody talks about usual family problems. It can't be said we talk about the same things all the time.

Do you often read and watch films?

Yes, often. I do it more when I am away, not at home. We spend much time on the plane, so I watch all American novelties. I have watched almost all best series that exist. I watched Game of Thrones, I like Homeland a lot. Now relatively new series How to Get Away with Murder is coming out. As for Russian series, I like light series like Kitchen or Interns, with a sense of humour, to chill out.

In conclusion, a couple of words for your fans.

Come and watch us. Have a sports lifestyle in general. It is important, sport keeps you healthy. If somebody doesn't like to watch sport, try to do it live. It is another thing than watching on TV. We will try to show what we are able to do. And do it beautifully.

By Erik Dobrolyubov. Photo: Roman Kruchinin zenit-kazan.com