Aleksey Spiridonov: ''Navalny? I don’t see a president of Russia with a real prison term''

The most odious volleyball player of the country about sport and politics

Aleksey Spiridonov: ''Navalny? I don’t see a president of Russia with a real prison term'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

In general, famous volleyball player Aleksey Spiridonov makes more to popularise this sport in the country than the entire All-Russian Volleyball Federation. Aleksey's number of Twitter followers is almost 100,000 people – many federal media will envy this figure. In an interview given right at the airport, Aleksey frankly answered all the questions of Realnoe Vremya's sports staff.

''I can become the first volleyball player who switched to football at the peak of his career''

Where are you flying?

To Antalya for a camp. It is the second camp before the season starts. The first cups begin at the end of August. My team Yenisey is middling, so to speak.

In general, is not our volleyball too boring with such hegemony of Zenit-Kazan?

I try to make it merrier by all means. For instance, football agent Aleksey Safonov offered me to become a goalkeeper of SKA from Khabarovsk. When I was a child, I was good in goals. I can become the first volleyball player who switched to football at the peak of his career (laughing).

When should we be wait for this sensation?

Probably you won't see it, they give a little money. They should have more money.

''My team Yenisey is middling, so to speak.'' Photo: vc-enisey.ru

''Today's Zenit-Kazan – Alekno's merit''

Alekno is considered a great coach. Do you agree with this opinion?

A lot can be said about him, let's not speak about him.

I think Alekno has always worked only with stars. How would he work with Yenisey, for example?

Today's Zenit-Kazan – Alekno's merit. He created this team, he made this brand the whole world respects today. This is why I think nowadays the team is the best in the world because I was there for two years. Alekno is quite strict at training, he doesn't have mercy on anyone; it doesn't matter whether you are a star or not. He is an authority, makes everyone work, and everyone works. This is why I think Alekno is a strong coach.

''Alekno is quite strict at training, he doesn't have mercy on anyone; it doesn't matter whether you are a star or not. He is an authority, makes everyone work, and everyone works.'' Photo: zenit-kazan.com

''Spit at Matuszewski? I don't regret''

In Poland in 2014, in the World Championships deputy Marek Matuszewski said that while replying to provocations of local fans you spat at them twice and it touched him.

I heard insults during the whole World Championship when all this rubbish with Maidan in Ukraine and Crimea started. They think we started it all. I will say more – very Matuszewski shouted these phrases when I was leaving the hall towards the changing room. Does he think I spat? It means I spat. It means he deserved it.

Don't you regret?

No, I don't, no way.

There was another moment when in a match against Germany you turned towards the spectators and shot them dead with an imaginary gun.

I was under the influence of emotions. I got two disqualifications in the next two World League stage matches. What for? I shot them dead, what's wrong? Then it was good, actually. The first disqualification matches coincided with two away games in Poland. Blessing in disguise.

Maybe you were disqualified deliberately so that there would not be any continuation in Poland?

Maybe (laughing).

''Does he think I spat? It means I spat. It means he deserved it.'' Photo: zenit-kazan.com

''Navalny? What a president is he?''

I will remind the spits did not end there. There was a match against Fakel where you quarrelled with Vladimir Melnik.

In addition, we even fought. We just pushed each other. He got a red card because the referee saw the episode and understood who was guilty. I had a lasting war with Melnik, we could not get along with for a long time. We have started to greet each other in the last years. I can tease him: ''So what? Glory to Ukraine? Glory to Heroes?'' Because he supports today's power in Ukraine, Poroshenko, Maidan. I don't understand such people, of course. But he is Ukrainian, it explains everything. Everyone has priorities. My friend Evgeny Kafelnikov supports Navalny. I can't stand the latter, I hate, sometimes I write it to him on Twitter. I think Putin is our president, not Navalny who sends 16-year-old kids to protests. They are silly, they understand nothing at the moment. They were drilled that Navalny is our president, Putin and Medvedev mean corruption, poorness. We will live well with Navalny and so on. Guys, go to work to live well instead of going to protests.

Is it easier to speak than do?

Yes. There is a video: I carry happiness to people, then I carry a log to people. Of course, why do you speak? Go and work, you have hands and legs, achieve. Why do you accuse the current power of stealing? Won't Navalny steal? Corruption was and will be in the country. I don't see a president of Russia with a real prison term. What a president are you? Let's stop speaking about politics.

But not about scandals. The most recent one is when you offered a referee money for ''fair refereeing''.

What should I tell? I got conventional disqualification from the All-Russian Volleyball Federation for it. The referee wrote a letter like I threatened to punish his family and him. He is a disgusting person, of course. Many of my friends who know him personally also think so. I have heard nothing good about him. It is a pity I don't remember his name. I think we will meet somewhere one day, and as captain of Yenisey I will have to shake his hand. I don't know how it will look (laughing).

You are not obliged to shake his hand at gunpoint.

But I must. To tell the truth, I would not shake the hand of such people. But I will show my weakness. I'd rather shake, we are strong people. We already got such disqualification, so nothing will break us.

''I think we will meet somewhere one day, and as captain of Yenisey I will have to shake his hand.'' Photo: vc-enisey.ru

All the Russian team sport is stuck in the limit on the number of foreign players. As a playing athlete with a correct passport, are you glad about the craziness?

There have always been two foreign players during all the time I have been playing volleyball. This is why I don't know whether it is good or not.

But it affect the price tag, particularly yours. Isn't there any competition?

The thing is that there are few players in my position, there is a handful of Russians. The young is growing weak. This is why I don't worry a lot. As for competition… Of course, it was difficult for me in Kazan when you are after Léon and Anderson. They rank first and second among the best outside hitters for a reason. There were foreign players in my position, they were after me, Brazilians, Frenchmen, etc. If we cancel the limit, the young will stop growing.

Why? Let's put an example of football: the generation of Arshavin, Kerzhakov, Ignashevich grew before the limit on the number of foreign players. They all became famous without any limit. Now we don't have any bright players at all. We even started to naturalise Brazilians and Germans.

It depends on a person. Kerzh is my good friend. When we chatted with him, I teased him. He became an expert on Match TV instead of Karpin. He forecasted a match Spartak against Krasnodar and stated he hoped Spartak would not win. I sent this video to him and said it was his style.

''Spartak is people's team. It needs to be loved.'' Photo: spartak.com

Are you a fan of Spartak?

We already bet on the champion. He came to Moscow and gave the prize to the most expensive restaurants of the city.

Why do you love Spartak so much? You look like a person that doesn't suit the format, you like challenges. Spartak turns out to be a ''pop'' team.

Spartak is people's team. It needs to be loved. Whom should I love? CSKA? I played so much time at Iskra from Odintsovo, it is like missile forces. There is not Spartak in volleyball, one needs to earn money somewhere. For me, there is only Spartak.

Apart from Spartak, who else can become a champion?

This year Zenit, of course. With new players and the coach. As far as I remember, they always became champions when a new coach came there: Advocaat, Spaletti or Villas-Boas.

Did not it work with Lucesku?

Yes, he is a misery. Everything is clear that nothing will work with him. I don't know how he could be hired.

We are also interested in Rubin.

I don't follow Rubin a lot. When I played in Kazan, I visited one match, sit in a restaurant. They played against Spartak. I would not go otherwise.

Rubin is the only team not from Moscow and Petersburg that became a champion twice.

Yes, good for them. Once Kazan became a champion in all the sports except basketball – men and women's volleyball, Ak Bars HC. Kazan is a sports city, I respect, well done. They develop sport without grudging money.

''During some next five years, nobody will be able to throw Zenit-Kazan away from the throne''

Will volleyball in Russia never become equal with football and hockey?

Never. If only there are 10-12 people like me. And if they are distributed two in each team. There will be a lot of noise on Twitter then, it will be possible to drive football out (laughing).

Petersburg has got its own Zenit VC. What can you say about it?

They are also in a camp, many of my friends are there. I hope I will also be there. I would like to play in Saint Petersburg a lot, to live there and know what a city it is. There are always chances. If you demonstrate good volleyball, why can't you be at Zenit from Saint Petersburg? The most important thing is to develop, work and work. I don't think Messi, Ronaldo, Ibragimovich don't work. I think they work much more. This is why they are giants.

What is the fate of the team? Will they invite players from Zenit-Kazan?

I think to have two Zenits with such a sponsor as Gazprom is not a drop in the ocean.

Yes, but from a perspective of clean sport, won't the sponsor refuse the Kazan team? Maybe it needs to change its name.

I don't know. Why can't we have two Zenits? I don't think it is a problem. If something happens, Gazprom can refuse the Kazan team and invest in Petersburg. I don't think Zenit-Kazan will disappear. In general, it can not happen because Kazan created a world brand.

Is a good squad created in Petersburg now?

Quite good.

If we compare with Zenit-Kazan. Is there still a huge abyss?

Probably it is not an abyss, of course, but now the difference is huge. But the Petersburg team will be able to fight for medals of the Russian Championship even this year. But during some next five years, nobody will be able to throw Zenit-Kazan away from the throne even in Europe, not to mention Russia.

By Artur Khalillulov