Carlos Zambrano: ‘In Russia, such clubs as Rubin, Zenit pay good money’
The Peruvian central defender who played his conscious football career in Germany has cemented a seat in Javier Gracia's game concept and in the first team of the Kazan club. Carlos Zambrano talked to our newspaper after the match of Rubin against CSKA. He told about his deprived childhood, German football and first impressions of his life in Russia: Rubin, Russian football and cold. The great patriot of Peru in an exclusive interview with the sports staff of Realnoe Vremya.
'It is important to try to qualify for the European League'
Carlos, did not you dream about the header in the last match against CSKA?
No, I did not. I wanted to score a goal before the match. I had an opportunity. I wanted to score, earn three points. But I failed. Nevertheless, I think the team played well.
How did you manage to score a goal in your debut for Schalke and then in the national squad?
It was a coincidence. I wish I had marked my debut at Rubin with a goal. The most important thing now is to try to play well. It is also good to score goals. The most important thing is to support and help the team.
Generally speaking, you start to attack in every game. Is it the coach's instruction or your improvisation?
I think mainly every player makes this decision. It is always good to try to play in attack, create goal chances regardless of who does: my teammate or me. But we, defenders, we can't attack much. It is necessary to study our rivals and know when we can do it.
The team is probably glad about the results in the match against CSKA?
We could do more. We could get three points. But one point in an away match in Moscow is always good. We had clear opportunities to win. This is why I am not very glad.
15 matches of the championship are behind. What do the coach and players think about this period?
We are growing, though the first matches were very tough. Now we have played against Rostov and CSKA who are participating in the Champions League. They are great clubs. We gradually find our best level. We know that the Russian League is tough. But we want to achieve many things.
We, defenders, we can't attack much. It is necessary to study the rivals and know when we can do it
What are these many things?
The most important thing for us is to reach an international tournament as realists. We would like to speak about the championship. But Spartak scored much more points than we did. It is very difficult to catch up with them. This is why it is important to be in the top 4 best clubs and try to qualify for the European League.
You joined Schalke aged 16 and played in Germany during almost all your life. Did anything Peruvian left in your mentality except games for the national squad?
All in all, my Peruvian mentality will never change. I try to adjust to rules of every country like I did in Germany and now in Russia. I am trying not to do what I used to in Peru because the mentality there is different. There are good and bad sides like in other countries. For example, in Germany, a person needs to get used to punctuality, responsibility. For me, it was difficult to get used because in Peru as well as in all South America people can be 5-10 minutes late. Meanwhile, in Germany, people need to be in place 10 minutes in advance.
Is Russian punctuality closer to Peruvian or German?
I think, it is in the middle (laughing). Germans are extremely punctual.
'In Russia, such clubs as Rubin, Zenit pay good money'
You decided to make a drastic change in your career. Why did Rubin attract you so?
I talked to Javi before my arrival. During a short talk, he told about the project of the team, new players and that Rubin would play in Europe again in a year. After nine years spent in Germany, I felt I needed to play for other teams and in other countries to learn something more.
Probably money was important in this case. It is now allowed to ask for certain numbers. But your salary at Rubin is much higher than at Eintracht. Is it true?
Let's be realists. In Russia, such clubs as Rubin, Zenit pay good money. They do it also in order to improve the Russian League. As you know, the German League is very good. But you understand than any player tries looking for the best for himself and his family. I knew about Rubin a long time ago. It is not a small club. If a small club had invited – I won't name them – and offered me a big sum, I would not have accepted the offer. Such teams don't have aspirations, while Rubin does have a name in Russia. If not this year, we will achieve more next year.
I knew about Rubin a long time ago. It is not a small club. If a small club had invited – I won't name them – and offered me a big sum, I would not have accepted the offer. Such teams don't have aspirations, while Rubin does have a name in Russia. If not this year, we will achieve more next year.
Did you ask for any advice on your move to Kazan?
No, I did not. At first the club talked to my manager. He told me about the offer. At the same time, there were offers from other German clubs. But I wanted to go to another country, learn something and get acquainted with other leagues and meet the Russian cold (laughing). Now I am glad. My family is here. But, of course, the cold is the worst thing. But it is also experience.
How did your relatives react to your move to Russia? Were there any talks about bears, vodka and mafia?
Russian mafia? (laughing). No. First of all, in Peru, Russia is associated with the cold. Secondly, Russia is famous for vodka. I've seen that Russians drink more whisky than vodka. It is very strange. My family always respected my decisions. Now they are at home, in Kazan. They like the city. They are fine because I am fine.
'I know that in Russia vodka is a good thing to withstand cold'
You have already experienced cold. Have you already tasted vodka?
Yes, I know that in Russia vodka is a good thing to withstand cold. If there is a victory, people can easily try it. If the result is bad, I don't think that there is any desire.
What does your family do when you train and have away matches?
They try walking in the city, eat in restaurants. For example, now the river near the Kremlin has covered with ice. They go for a walk there because you won't see it in Peru, such cold doesn't exist there. They shoot videos and show them to our friends in Peru.
What do you friends say? They are probably culturally shocked.
As soon as I came here, I started to show the temperature in Kazan by making screenshots when it was -15. People said: 'Are you crazy?' I replied it was my job. I thought it was cold in Germany. But it can't be compared with Russia. It is very cold. The weather during the match against Rostov was awful.
Have you already made snegoviks? Do you know what it is?
How? Snegovik? No, I know only Cheburashka (laughing). My teammates say I look like Cheburashka (showing his ears with laughter). I don't know about snegovik. We have fun with snow.
Snegovik? No, I know only Cheburashka only (laughing). My teammates say I look like Cheburashka
You did not play in the first four matches. Did you worry about it?
I did not. When I started to play football, I played almost always. I knew I joined a new team, needed to start from scratch, work more and try to help the team. I knew my opportunity could come at any time. Thank God, I am playing, and the team is achieving good results. But football is a relative thing. It changes fast. Today you are playing, tomorrow – your teammate. The team needs to win, it is the most important thing. All the players in the team are hard working. Everybody wants the team to grow.
It seems that not all the players withstand the cold. For example, Song has disappeared. Is he cold?
(Laughing) It is fine. The European cold differs from the Russian cold. And our Russian teammates say it has just begun. Thank God, the league has taken a winter break. We are going to train in Spain.
'Germany doesn't need this limit'
You were not in the first team mainly because of the limit on the number of foreign players. What do you think about its Russia version?
We all knew what the Russian league was, that there was a limit not only for us but also for other teams. We can't think the limit is the reason. We need to play with it, train better and improve the game every day to improve the results too. All in all, everybody knew about the limit. Other countries also have different limits.
In your opinion, why does the Russian league need this limit?
To tell the truth, I don't know. Germany doesn't need this limit. There were many foreigners in my team. They all could play without any problem. But it is a rule. Probably it has a purpose for your country. Let's hope it will be for the good of Russia.
We all knew what the Russian league was, that there was a limit not only for us but also for other teams. We can't think the limit is the reason. We need to play with it, train better and improve the game every day to improve the results too
The purpose of the limit is to bring up young Russian football players. Why does Germany have no limit but world-class talents constantly appear?
The limit in itself doesn't guarantee anything. I came from Germany where I started to play in the low division. I had to work hard, not like in Peru. Aged 17, I started to play for the second team and saw how 10-12-year-old players played and how they were treated – like professionals. For example, in Peru, everything is different. Children are allowed to play and entertain because they are kids. But the work level in Germany is surprising, of course.
By the way, did not you have to choose a national team? Did you have possibilities to obtain German citizenship and play for the national team?
Which national team? German? No! I am Peruvian! I will always be Peruvian. I was not born in Germany. Even if I lived in Germany for many years and speak about it well… If I did it, I would betray my country.
The national squad of Germany has many players who were not born in Germany. So, are they all betrayers?
I can't say so because every player has its own mentality. I think the national team of Germany doesn't have any latino.
There are many Turks…
Yes, many Turks come to Germany and live there.
'Neither coach nor administration says why Carlos Zambrano is not playing in the team
I understood you are a great patriot. Probably your debut in the national team was a great event for you. What emotions did you have?
I think a game for the national team is the best thing that can happen in football player's life. I played football to play, make money and help my family. The first game for the national team was a dream. When I scored the goal, I was very happy, I was 18. Since then I have played in the team. To put your national team's T-shirt and sing the national anthem is an indescribable thing.
I think a game for the national team is the best thing that can happen in football player's life. <...> To put your national team's T-shirt and sing the national anthem is an indescribable thing.
How did you score the goal? Personally, I did not see.
It was a header. But not like in Moscow (laughing).
Did not your position in the national squad of Peru change after your transfer to Rubin? Last time you were called up was a long time ago.
I have not been called up since I moved to Kazan. There was a small problem with some players. It is a long story. Nobody speaks about this problem in the squad. The coach did not talk to me. It is a big problem because the press is talking much about it. People don't know, they read and think the worst. The problem is that neither the coach nor administration says why Carlos Zambrano is not playing in the team. They said nothing but allowed the press to talk much and badly. I have not been playing for the national squad for 5 months, which is 4-5 matches. But I am fine. I know that I am a good player. If not, Rubin would not have purchased me (laughing). If the press or you tell me I am a bad player, my mentality will say I am good. I believe in myself.
From your point of view, why are not you playing in the national team? Maybe coaches can't watch the Russian Championship…
Come on, they watch it. If coaches want to call a player up, they watch everything. As I have said, there are external problems. I have always played for the national team. I have played more than 40 matches.
More or less. But I am fine. The most important thing is to play well at Rubin. Naturally, I want my national team to be fine. Now I don't care whether I am playing there or not. I want my country to be fine and win. Rubin needs to win and grow, it is the most important thing for me. For example, if I need to go to the squad, I have to fly for 26 hours. This is crazy. This is why I am fine here.
'I would not go to watch football even as a spectator'
Could you tell us about your impressions of the Russian Premier League in comparison with Bundesliga?
In comparison? They are absolutely different leagues. In my opinion, the German, English and Spanish leagues are the best leagues. Russia has 3-4 teams that can fight to be on the summit with giants. But it is very difficult. Much time is needed until Russia becomes powerful. It is like to compare the Peruvian league with the Argentinean, Brazilian or some European championship. It is incomparable.
What surprised you in the Russian league the most?
Fights (laughing). All teams fight. People in the above-mentioned leagues play football more. Here all teams including weak fights. Anybody can win. It is incredible. In addition, I did not like that stadiums are not full. I understand that it is fine because of the cold weather.
Should spectators be paid for watching football in winter?
I would not go to watch football even as a spectator because it is very cold.
In the match against CSKA, Vernblum elbowed and almost hit Sergio Sánchez's head. The referee saw it but did nothing.
It is a situation of the match. Referee can be mistaken. I have never talked about any referee whatever he did. They are ordinary people. They also make mistakes like other people.
Referee can be mistaken. I have never talked about any referee whatever he did. They are ordinary people.
Let's remember that Caktaš and you were eliminated in Grozny…
I remember it well. I have never talked about any referee. There is no need. People see what is going on.
'My native city is a dangerous place'
How was Chechnya? Were not you afraid to play there? Grozny was not a calm place in the past.
No, because I grew up in a city that is far worse than Grozny.
Could you tell us about it more?
Look on the Internet. Read about my city. If I am not mistaken, every day people die there. It is dangerous. There are problems with crime, there are many steals. For example, if they want to steal your phone, they will kill you and take your phone. It happens every day. I grew up looking at it.
Curiously, who would Carlos Zambrano be if not football? A criminal?
Probably I would be implicated in it.
Who saved you?
I had a sound mind. My parents always talked to me. We had a very united family. We directly told about bad and good deeds. If somebody in the family wanted to choose a wrong path, the family was always with him to talk and return to a right one.
You have been playing Russian football for 6 months. In your opinion, why does our national team often fail in WC and Euros?
I ask my country the same question. Probably your league is not very strong. In turn, it affects the national team. The Russian league needs to grow gradually. Much work is needed. I would like to see the victory of Russia because I am playing in the Russian league, so that all Russian cities would be happy. When my country's national team loses, kids are upset. Perhaps Russians are also upset when the national team loses. I want people to be happy. Russia won the last match thanks to my teammate Ozdoev's goal. I watched the match and was happy for him and the country.
'Ty ochen krasivaya'
Why is not Magomed playing in the first team of Rubin?
It is the coach's decision. The same thing happened to me. I also asked myself: 'Why am not I playing?' But we should respect the coach's decisions. We are 25 players, everybody wants to play. All players of the first eleven are happy. 50% of those who are not playing are not. But it is football. Neither me nor Sánchez nor another player but Rubin is the most important thing. When I did not play, I wanted the team to win.
Oh, it is difficult. I learn what I need on the pitch – to the left, to the right, forward, back. And bad words. In addition, I can say 'bill' when I go to a restaurant.
Do you have a hobby? Is it compatible with Russian conditions?
As a kid, my friends and I always played with a glass ball in the street. We usually played right on the ground. When I come to Peru, I visit my friends and we play this game. We feel like kids.
Can't you play in snow in Kazan?
No, you will lose your finger (laughing).
What do you think about Russian and Tatar cuisine?
I don't have problems. I ate everything when I was a kid. I did not have any preferences. Even if the Peruvian food is delicious, Russian cuisine is not worse.
Are you learning Russian?
Oh, it is difficult. I am learning what I need on the pitch – to the left, to the right, forward, back. And bad words. In addition, I can say 'bill' when I go to a restaurant. I know 'privet', 'kak dela?', 'ty ochen krasivaya' (laughing, says in Russian).
What will you wife say when she reads the interview? (showing the voice recorder)
Oh (laughing), she doesn't speak Russian.
We have an English version of the newspaper…
She won't find it (laughing).
What about the Tatar language?
No. In January, I will start to learn Russian to be able to talk to people in the street. In Germany, the language is very difficult. But I needed to learn it. I will do the same in Russia. Although the language is difficult, I need to learn it.
In conclusion, a short Tatar lesson. 'Rekhmet' means 'thanks'. In this case, for the interview.
Rekhmet (Carlos manages to repeat the word at the first attempt).