STANISLAV CHERCHESOV «WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO REST ON OUR LAURELS»
08
/ 27
Interview //// Stanislav Alexandrov
that became a source of national pride.
Stanislav Cherchesov
INFUSED THE WHOLE
COUNTRY WITH HIS
BELIEF
in the Russian
national team
n guiding his side to the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil, Stanislav Salamovich Cherchesov achieved Russia's best ever result in football's flagship event. But perhaps the head coach's biggest accomplishment was that the whole country fell in love with a team
Stanislav Salamovich, you've been involved in football and doing what you love almost your entire life. Moreover, as a professional, you get paid to do it. Do you consider yourself lucky to have been afforded such a rare opportunity, and how do you feel about all the admiration and gratitude expressed to you and your team after the World Cup?
I've never even thought about this. One has to earn one's luck first. You're paying me and our footballers all these compliments today, but not too long ago, you probably thought the opposite. In fact, nothing has changed in terms of my everyday life. As you can see, my office hasn't changed one bit, I still have the same armchair, the same photos on the wall and so on. Just as I've always done, I continue to go out in public like a normal person; I drive myself home and don't have a chauffeur. Yesterday I went to the gym, as I'd done on numerous occasions before. I have the same membership, which I extended just yesterday for the same amount. (Sorry, that's not exactly true – they actually gave me an extra month at no additional cost, which they had never done before!).

When the World Cup ended, it became part of history. Life goes on. If I thought about other people's reactions towards me at various points in time, I surely wouldn't be able to concentrate on my job. Fans can afford to get emotional about defeats and victories, chances scored and missed. That's normal. We simply do our jobs.
Your life has been a succession of ups and downs, successes and failures. You've had many things said about you, both positive and negative. Is it really true that you don't care about what others say about you?
I often say that it's important to think about this, but, in this particular case, it's not necessary to dwell on it. If you do, then you need to change your line of work. I try not to read what others write about me. It's not up to me to preach to someone about what's right or wrong. If a person who has said negative things about me or my players were to greet me tomorrow, I'd shake his or her hand as though nothing had ever happened between us, simply because I genuinely don't keep track of what's written or said about me. Even during the World Cup, I didn't watch any TV programmes that featured discussions about football. Why get distracted?
Do you always react to criticism in such a calm and composed manner? Can you recall some situations when you were seriously offended by someone?
I'm sure you're familiar with the guru of sports journalism, Leonid Fedorovich Trakhtenberg. Well I met him not long after I started playing for Spartak. I was feeling a bit dejected when we met, despite my having played quite well the day before. When he asked me what was wrong, I said something along the lines of: "Well, a journalist wrote something bad about my performance, but I really thought I'd played quite well!" And he responded: "If you don't want anyone to criticise you, then go play in a factory team. But then again, even at that level, people may still say different things about you. After all you don't live in a vacuum." Since then, I've probably been more relaxed about everything.

I try not to remember anything bad because it's difficult to live with a lot of negativity.

If you had asked me about all of this 20 years ago, I might have given you a different answer. But then again, who knows... Even then I understood it's pointless to get offended, and if you really want to prove something to someone else, do so on the pitch. During one of my interviews before the World Cup, I said that we wouldn't be able to earn respect with words alone but with actions. And it looks like we did just that. It even seems that some have started to love us a little, which is a good thing. As a rule, you need to learn to respect yourself before others can respect you.
When you see that others have started to love you, don't you feel a sense of joy and think, "That's right! Finally! We deserve this!"?
Nope. Nothing changes. We have no right to rest on our laurels.
You're known for rotating your players in the national team. Apparently, in last year alone, you've replaced nine of them...
Sure! Various situations arise, and they can be unpredictable, such as injuries (we lost three of our squad due to injuries alone) or sudden changes in a player's physical condition. It's a professional sport; it demands that you live in the moment and instantly respond to changes in your environment.
But you're the instrument of change in a situation.
It's not me who prompts this kind of change but the situation.
For many sports commentators it's still a mystery how you managed to prepare so well for the World Cup. Did you have a selection process for each game?
The World Cup entails sport, psychology and politics. And you use this knowledge to pick players who can achieve certain aims. It's somewhat similar to selecting actors for specific roles in a play. Or when choosing clothes. For one occasion you wear a tie, for another a bow tie. Both of these clothing items are meant to be worn around the neck, but they serve different functions. Of course, before each game we try to factor in everything, weighing up each player's potential and abilities. Aside from their physical power, you need to select the right type of personality. There are 23 players, each with a degree of healthy ambition, and the desire to prove themselves.
OK, let's say that Artem Dzyuba plays well against Egypt, but not against Croatia…
Anything is possible, because his role and responsibilities may vary during different moments in a match.
Speaking of Dzyuba, you've probably been asked on numerous occasions about your salutes to Artem and vice versa, but can tell us if this part of a plan, a form of 'acting'?
Of course not. Some things are completely spontaneous. I saluted him first because he really did try – he went out there and did his job.
Why did you choose to salute him? After all, you never coached or played for CSKA Moscow , did you? Nor is he a CSKA player.
Well, first of all, such a salute (to express "I have the honour") is typically Russian, it's in our blood. And secondly, as I said before, I really hadn't planned on using this gesture beforehand.
Cherchesov put his
faith in Artem Dzyuba
AND THE FRONT
MAN DID NOT LET
HIM DOWN
,
proving a true leader
for his team
Wikipedia says that you are the youngest child and the only son in your family...
I'm not the youngest. I'm the second youngest actually. I have a younger sister, Marina.
What's it like living with four sisters, with three of them being older than you?
Here's the thing: regardless of your sisters' age, a man is still in charge. I still remember that when he left the house, my dad always said: "You're in charge now!" I heard these words from the age of three or four. It was quite a task to be responsible for all the women in my household, my sisters and my mum.
What's more difficult: taking responsibility for five women or for 23 footballers?
You know, being in charge of your household from the age of three means that taking responsibility for others becomes the norm.
Is it true that you were sent to a football academy because you didn't do well in regular school?
No. I was a good pupil, I got only two fours in my school diploma. I can even tell you another secret: I didn't actually take my school bag home, so to speak. The maths lesson ended, I'd finished my homework during school recess, learned everything by heart and left my book bag in my desk. And then I went to play football.
So did you start playing football on your own, or did someone encourage you?
My neighbour played for a local team. At first, I simply watched. Then I went in goal when he practised his kicks. I began to notice I was quite good, purely by accident. That's how it all began.
As someone from the Caucasus, you're probably good at proposing toasts. Do you know any "football-related" toasts?
Even though I am teetotal, I think every coach should dedicate his first toast to his footballers. This is a matter of principle, as without footballers a coach can never achieve success.
Can you share your thoughts about the match against Croatia? For years to come, our compatriots will remember how well the team played in that match but also feel disappointed that we didn't reach the final despite this.
I'm left with positive impressions. The fact people were talking about us means they weren't indifferent towards us and that we were helping them feel good about themselves. People who used to criticise us, nowadays praise us, or empathise with us or feel disappointed when we do. In a way we've managed to unite people, and that's the most important thing.
Many of those who became interested in football thanks to the World Cup wondered how small countries like Belgium and Croatia can produce such great football…
Well, take Ossetia; it's a small republic but wherever you look, you can find Olympic and world champions. As I often jokingly say, any boy born in Ossetia is a potential world champion in freestyle wrestling. The key is not to be too lazy to join a training gym. In different countries people show greater aptitude towards certain kinds of sports. The Belgians have always had a good team. The Croatians have performed with confidence on many occasions.
What conditions or facilities does Russia currently need in order to improve the level of its football and ensure the team plays well consistently?
There is a theory that "social being determines consciousness". The conditions you grow up in determine who you become. A footballer has to grow and develop in a competitive environment. It's the environment that needs to be created in order to motivate development. You don't motivate someone by creating comfortable conditions, but competitive ones. That's the nature of sport. One flower can grow from under a rock while another wilts and dies even if it's watered and fertilised.
So what you're saying is that the government does not need to do anything to develop football, it's the coaches' job to create this environment. Does this work?
The state has already done much more than any other previous government.
The stadiums are superb. There are 70 training facilities! In years gone by,
the authorities did very little. Just go to YouTube and find, for instance, the 1993 match KAMAZ Naberezhnye Chelny versus Spartak Moscow in the archive.
Look at the type of pitch we played on and compare it to the pitches nowadays.

We have all the infrastructure; we just need to use it now. And we also need
to train and develop coaches.
One final question. If football didn't exist...
Stanislav Cherchesov INFUSED THE WHOLE
COUNTRY WITH HIS BELIEF
in the Russian national team
In guiding his side to the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil, Stanislav Salamovich Cherchesov achieved Russia's best ever result in football's flagship event. But perhaps the head coach's biggest accomplishment was that the whole country fell in love with a team that became a source of national pride.
Stanislav Salamovich, you've been involved in football and doing what you love almost your entire life. Moreover, as a professional, you get paid to do it. Do you consider yourself lucky to have been afforded such a rare opportunity, and how do you feel about all the admiration and gratitude expressed to you and your team after the World Cup?
I've never even thought about this. One has to earn one's luck first. You're paying me and our footballers all these compliments today, but not too long ago, you probably thought the opposite. In fact, nothing has changed in terms of my everyday life. As you can see, my office hasn't changed one bit, I still have the same armchair, the same photos on the wall and so on. Just as I've always done, I continue to go out in public like a normal person; I drive myself home and don't have a chauffeur. Yesterday I went to the gym, as I'd done on numerous occasions before. I have the same membership, which I extended just yesterday for the same amount. (Sorry, that's not exactly true – they actually gave me an extra month at no additional cost, which they had never done before!).

When the World Cup ended, it became part of history. Life goes on. If I thought about other people's reactions towards me at various points in time, I surely wouldn't be able to concentrate on my job. Fans can afford to get emotional about defeats and victories, chances scored and missed. That's normal. We simply do our jobs.
Your life has been a succession of ups and downs, successes and failures. You've had many things said about you, both positive and negative. Is it really true that you don't care about what others say about you?
I often say that it's important to think about this, but, in this particular case, it's not necessary to dwell on it. If you do, then you need to change your line of work. I try not to read what others write about me. It's not up to me to preach to someone about what's right or wrong. If a person who has said negative things about me or my players were to greet me tomorrow, I'd shake his or her hand as though nothing had ever happened between us, simply because I genuinely don't keep track of what's written or said about me. Even during the World Cup, I didn't watch any TV programmes that featured discussions about football. Why get distracted?
Do you always react to criticism in such a calm and composed manner? Can you recall some situations when you were seriously offended by someone?
I'm sure you're familiar with the guru of sports journalism, Leonid Fedorovich Trakhtenberg. Well I met him not long after I started playing for Spartak. I was feeling a bit dejected when we met, despite my having played quite well the day before. When he asked me what was wrong, I said something along the lines of: "Well, a journalist wrote something bad about my performance, but I really thought I'd played quite well!" And he responded: "If you don't want anyone to criticise you, then go play in a factory team. But then again, even at that level, people may still say different things about you. After all you don't live in a vacuum." Since then, I've probably been more relaxed about everything.

I try not to remember anything bad because it's difficult to live with a lot of negativity.

If you had asked me about all of this 20 years ago, I might have given you a different answer. But then again, who knows... Even then I understood it's pointless to get offended, and if you really want to prove something to someone else, do so on the pitch. During one of my interviews before the World Cup, I said that we wouldn't be able to earn respect with words alone but with actions. And it looks like we did just that. It even seems that some have started to love us a little, which is a good thing. As a rule, you need to learn to respect yourself before others can respect you.
When you see that others have started to love you, don't you feel a sense of joy and think, "That's right! Finally! We deserve this!"?
Nope. Nothing changes. We have no right to rest on our laurels.
You're known for rotating your players in the national team. Apparently, in last year alone, you've replaced nine of them...
Sure! Various situations arise, and they can be unpredictable, such as injuries (we lost three of our squad due to injuries alone) or sudden changes in a player's physical condition. It's a professional sport; it demands that you live in the moment and instantly respond to changes in your environment.
But you're the instrument of change in a situation.
It's not me who prompts this kind of change but the situation.
For many sports commentators it's still a mystery how you managed to prepare so well for the World Cup. Did you have a selection process for each game?
The World Cup entails sport, psychology and politics. And you use this knowledge to pick players who can achieve certain aims. It's somewhat similar to selecting actors for specific roles in a play. Or when choosing clothes. For one occasion you wear a tie, for another a bow tie. Both of these clothing items are meant to be worn around the neck, but they serve different functions. Of course, before each game we try to factor in everything, weighing up each player's potential and abilities. Aside from their physical power, you need to select the right type of personality. There are 23 players, each with a degree of healthy ambition, and the desire to prove themselves.
OK, let's say that Artem Dzyuba plays well against Egypt, but not against Croatia…
Anything is possible, because his role and responsibilities may vary during different moments in a match.
Speaking of Dzyuba, you've probably been asked on numerous occasions about your salutes to Artem and vice versa, but can tell us if this part of a plan, a form of 'acting'?
Of course not. Some things are completely spontaneous. I saluted him first because he really did try – he went out there and did his job.
Why did you choose to salute him? After all, you never coached or played for CSKA Moscow , did you? Nor is he a CSKA player.
Well, first of all, such a salute (to express "I have the honour") is typically Russian, it's in our blood. And secondly, as I said before, I really hadn't planned on using this gesture beforehand.
Cherchesov put his faith in Artem Dzyuba AND THE FRONT MAN DID NOT LET HIM DOWN, proving a true leader for his team
Wikipedia says that you are the youngest child and the only son in your family...
I'm not the youngest. I'm the second youngest actually. I have a younger sister, Marina.
What's it like living with four sisters, with three of them being older than you?
Here's the thing: regardless of your sisters' age, a man is still in charge. I still remember that when he left the house, my dad always said: "You're in charge now!" I heard these words from the age of three or four. It was quite a task to be responsible for all the women in my household, my sisters and my mum.
What's more difficult: taking responsibility for five women or for 23 footballers?
You know, being in charge of your household from the age of three means that taking responsibility for others becomes the norm.
Is it true that you were sent to a football academy because you didn't do well in regular school?
No. I was a good pupil, I got only two fours in my school diploma. I can even tell you another secret: I didn't actually take my school bag home, so to speak. The maths lesson ended, I'd finished my homework during school recess, learned everything by heart and left my book bag in my desk. And then I went to play football.
So did you start playing football on your own, or did someone encourage you?
My neighbour played for a local team. At first, I simply watched. Then I went in goal when he practised his kicks. I began to notice I was quite good, purely by accident. That's how it all began.
As someone from the Caucasus, you're probably good at proposing toasts. Do you know any "football-related" toasts?
Even though I am teetotal, I think every coach should dedicate his first toast to his footballers. This is a matter of principle, as without footballers a coach can never achieve success.
Can you share your thoughts about the match against Croatia? For years to come, our compatriots will remember how well the team played in that match but also feel disappointed that we didn't reach the final despite this.
I'm left with positive impressions. The fact people were talking about us means they weren't indifferent towards us and that we were helping them feel good about themselves. People who used to criticise us, nowadays praise us, or empathise with us or feel disappointed when we do. In a way we've managed to unite people, and that's the most important thing.
Many of those who became interested in football thanks to the World Cup wondered how small countries like Belgium and Croatia can produce such great football…
Well, take Ossetia; it's a small republic but wherever you look, you can find Olympic and world champions. As I often jokingly say, any boy born in Ossetia is a potential world champion in freestyle wrestling. The key is not to be too lazy to join a training gym. In different countries people show greater aptitude towards certain kinds of sports. The Belgians have always had a good team. The Croatians have performed with confidence on many occasions.
What conditions or facilities does Russia currently need in order to improve the level of its football and ensure the team plays well consistently?
There is a theory that "social being determines consciousness". The conditions you grow up in determine who you become. A footballer has to grow and develop in a competitive environment. It's the environment that needs to be created in order to motivate development. You don't motivate someone by creating comfortable conditions, but competitive ones. That's the nature of sport. One flower can grow from under a rock while another wilts and dies even if it's watered and fertilised.
So what you're saying is that the government does not need to do anything to develop football, it's the coaches' job to create this environment. Does this work?
The state has already done much more than any other previous government.
The stadiums are superb. There are 70 training facilities! In years gone by, the authorities did very little. Just go to YouTube and find, for instance, the 1993 match KAMAZ Naberezhnye Chelny versus Spartak Moscow in the archive.
Look at the type of pitch we played on and compare it to the pitches nowadays.

We have all the infrastructure; we just need to use it now. And we also need to train and develop coaches.
One final question. If football didn't exist...
I'd invent it.
Станислав Черчесов и игроки сборной России во время ВСТРЕЧИ С БОЛЕЛЬЩИКАМИ в фан-зоне на Воробьевых горах