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The most famous Russian footballers in the west

In 2018, the words Russia and football became inseparable. The whole world looked on as Russia hosted the biggest sporting tournament of the year, and it was a spectacle that did not disappoint. The performance of the home team, rank outsiders who nevertheless made it all the way to the quarter finals, showed that there is plenty of footballing talent, as well as enthusiasm, within Russia.

But that is no newsflash to students of the game. Russia might not have brought us as many big-name stars as the UK, Brazil or France, but there are some players whose talents have made them a magnet for the biggest teams in Europe. Let’s meet a few of them.

Football stadium in Russia
Image by Sergey Petrov from Pixabay

Andrei Kanchelskis

Kanchelskis was the first Russian to play in the English Premier League, and there are plenty who will tell you he was also the best. The winger had stints at Manchester City, Everton and Southampton, but it is his two magical years at Old Trafford that everyone remembers. He was instrumental in leading Manchester United to their first league title since the 1960s, and that was followed by wins in the FA Cup and the European Cup. When the relationship with Alex Ferguson turned sour, Kanchelskis transferred to Everton, leaving United fans ruing what might have been.

Igor Korneev

Here’s a man who spent the early 90s playing at the highest level in La Liga, first for Espanyol then for two seasons at Barcelona. But his name will be most familiar to fans of Eredivisie football betting. From 1995, the burly midfielder was one of the best-known names in Dutch football, with stints at Heerenveen, Feyenoord and finally NAC. He also earned 14 caps for his national team, and was part of their World Cup squad in 1994.

Igor Dobrovolski

Dobrovolski experienced football across several of Europe’s top-level leagues. His career saw him progress from his native Ukraine, which was still part of the USSR at the time, to the Spanish, Swiss, Italian, French, and German leagues, before finishing his career in Moldova. A respected winger with a talent for scoring big goals when they matter most, he also has the distinction of having played for three different national teams, USSR, Russia and the CIS, in a playing career that spanned 22 years of turbulent political history.

Andrey Arshavin

A mainstay of the national team for more than a decade, Arshavin enjoyed five fruitful years at Arsenal, where he became a fan favorite with the Gunners faithful. Always a man for the big occasion, he had the year of his life in 2009, becoming the first Russian in league history to score four goals in a match during a 4-4 draw with Liverpool. He finished second in the club’s Player of the Season rankings, despite only being available for the second half of the campaign.

Tomorrow’s stars

Today, stars like Denis Cheryshev (Valencia), Aleksey Miranchuk (Atalanta) and Aleksandr Kokorin (Fiorentina) continue to ensure Russian footballing talent remains in the spotlight at the highest level.

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