— Your schedule is pretty tight this season. Do you have time to rest?
— Yes, I’m trying to use all the free time I have. Every hour of rest is important. Recently I came back from the national team and I went to see my younger brother’s training the same day. He started going to school this year and this was the first class I visited.
— How is it going?
— He has all the instincts as well as good technique. We’ll see what will come of it. If anything, I will recommend him to go to FC Spartak! He isn’t like me though. He’s the smallest player among his age-mates and he’s a player of the attack line. He scored a crazy goal that day, I was shocked! He acted according to the best traditions of the English style. The ball was in the air, my brother decided to catch it with his left foot, so it lowered down quickly and he was able to score through the legs of the keeper. I was impressed.
— Do you tell him how to make his debut in the Premier League and to become a champion of Russia two years after that?
— I want him to be whatever he wants. I went through it myself. I’m happy to be an example or to give him some hints. My brother asks me many questions about FC Spartak and the Champions League. We talk and he’s interested. Sometimes he even picks a bone with me. I tell him: ‘Hey, I’m already in over my head, come on, get going…’ (Laughs) By the way, we often discuss some skirmishes that happen on the field. I feel flattered when he asks. He constantly visits the games. I usually tell him that if he does his best and trains he may repeat my destiny. My story is like a fairy-tail, you know.
I can’t stop saying this: when you wake up in the morning and know that you are going to have a match with the national team of Argentina or Spain, a match of the Champions League the emotions you feel are amazing, I wish that every player had a chance to feel it all.
— Does your brother worry about skirmishes on the field?
— He asked me about the skirmish we had during the game with FC Ufa (it was in the center of the field), asked about what happened. I told him that it was OK. We should not allow our friends to be wronged in any way. I always try to do the right thing on the field. If I see that people want something from my teammate, I will always be there. Maybe I will get another yellow card, but I will help anyway.
If they made players sit on the bench for two minutes for every skirmish I would have gotten myself ten minutes of rest during every game. (Smiles) I got what I deserved recently: got too many yellow cards and was not allowed to play with NK Maribor on my birthday. I was disappointed because I wanted to participate in all of the games of the Champions League.
— You got that above-limit yellow card during the away match with FC Sevilla…
— I can say that it was one of the hardest games of the season. The aura was disgusting and the Spanish side did everything they could to make it so. Our fans were also not allowed to the stadium. Of course we saw some fans of Spartak on the tribunes but there were only few of them. It’s hard to play without our fans’ support.
That being said, such games like that one bring me some energy. If a game is quiet it’s harder because all you can do is try to break the opponents’ defenses, slowly and methodically…
— Your previous team, Amkar, plays like that.
— Yes, I can admit that. We had a draw with the team from Perm when we played in Moscow. The score was 0:0. They also had great counterattacks which they didn’t use, but all in all we were the ones who had the advantage for the entire game, so we tried to break their defenses.
— Have you spoken with Gadzhiyev after the game with FC Amkar?
— Yes, I did. He was going to the press conference and I was on my way to their locker room. I said: ‘Muslimytch, can I go to the locker room of your team?..’ He answered: ‘Of course! You shouldn’t even ask!’ There was a moment during the game — I pushed Brian Idowu because he was in my way. Gadzhiyev remembered that: ‘Hey, Dzhikiya, why do you keep hitting my wolfhounds?!’ ‘Wolfhounds’ is his favorite word. I answered: ‘Well I can do that to Brian…’ and he agreed: ‘Yes, you’re right’. So I went to their locker room and I spent there about 15 minute. The time I spent as a member of FC Amkar was one of the most important stages of my career. I stayed there for a year and a half and I’m grateful for every day I spent with the team.
— This October your team also met FC Spartak from Nalchik during the Russian Cup. You know this team well too.
— I stayed in Nalchik for four months. It was an important experience too because they let me participate in the FNL for the first time. We had some great memories. We laughed and were sad for a while.
— Because that team did not deserve all this: it was a club with great history, they successfully participated in the Premier League and then they had to start participating in the PFL.
— What city would you choose among Perm, Nalchik and Dzerzhinsk? You had to stay in all of them for a while…
— I can only choose Moscow and Balashikha. I respect the people who live in those cities, but the far you go from Moscow — the worse the conditions are. That being said, I liked the park near the stadium in Nalchik. It’s a beautiful place and there are places to have a snack. I’d advise everyone to visit this city.
— Why did you choose Balashikha?
— All of my relatives live there so this place is my home. I can give you some advice about nice places to visit, but I’m not paid for any advertisements. Believe me, every person should spend one day in Balashikha. But not more. (Smiles)
They are doing some renovations now, for example they are building a good road because of the coming World Cup. I know that because I got into a small car accident there. It was nothing serious.
— What happened?
— They didn’t put a lid on the shaft. However, after they got reprimanded they fixed it in a week. Denys Glushakov helped me, he has some good connections.
— Is your car damaged?
— No, I just had to change several tires. There was a part of the road removed and there was this shaft. I decided to go over it. Well, to tell you the truth — I simply didn’t see it. I was busy with choosing the music. (Smiles) Well, at least I equipped the car with snow tires — I couldn’t find the time to do it. I think that accident was a sign of some kind. No, I’m even sure of this!
— Do you believe in signs?
— Yes. I believe that everything happens for a reason. If you do the right thing sooner or later you will find the ‘ladder’ which lets you get higher. Not doing bad things is what matters.
— Have you found your ‘ladder’ when you played in Dzerzhinsk?
— I always transferred to better teams. I was in the second league so I transferred to the first one, to Spartak-Nalchik. When they stopped participating in the FNL I transferred to FC Khimik from Dzerzhinsk. I spent a season there and transferred to FC Amkar, the club that participates in the Premier League. As you already know I transferred to FC Spartak from that Perm club. I had one goal during my career: I wanted to be a member of the best team. I am now.
— You signed a new contract with FC Spartak recently.
— I’m extremely happy to say that I did. From the first training session with Spartak I felt that it was my club, my team. It’s all in our hands (and feet) now. We will do our utmost to succeed. Those November and December games are very important. Yes, there will be more games next season, but for now we have to deal with FC Zenit, FC CSKA, FC Liverpool. We can’t also forget about FC Arsenal from Tula. I think that we need to gain as many points as possible. This Monday we will meet with FC Zenit. I think that if every player does what he’s meant to do with great devotion then we’ll be able to win. I guarantee that!
— Are Dzhikiya as a football player and Dzhikiya in life different people?
— Yes, people often tell me that I’m different in daily life. I have sport anger and relentlessness in football, but I’m pretty calm when I’m not playing. Once I went to Balashikha right after the game to meet my former classmates. They were in a café. They told me: ’30 minutes ago you were on the arena and now you are here with us. We saw you running around and shouting there, so what happened? Why are you just sitting here?..’ I answered: ‘Nothing happened, I just got tired, that’s all’.
— What can throw you off balance? Let’s imagine that you have to spend two hours in a queue. Will you be angry?
— No, I’m OK with such situations. It’s like a law of life — you have to wait in the queue until they call you. For example if you go to a bank and there are old women they have to ask about everything, so it’s your turn to solve your problems when the bank is about to close and it’s time to go to sleep. Even in such situation I am calm and I’m not trying to speed it up.
— Have you ever used your football skills in daily life?
— I did it once when I was a child. The neighbor's cat climbed up the tree and we had to scare her with the ball to make her come down. It helped!
I wasn’t precise enough though when I was a kid. (Smiles) No, of course we weren’t aiming at the cat. We had to make her come down to help the owner bring his pet home. We made it in the end.
— How did you celebrate your 24th birthday?
— I met with Jano: we agreed to have dinner together and visit the game to support the guys after that.
— Of course the gifts are not that important for you now, but what about your childhood?
— I always had all I needed, like football balls and bikes. I didn’t have the time for the bike though because when other kids went for walks I had to go to training sessions. Sometimes I was sad because it’s always interesting to play outside and I missed everything. Well, it was not in vain since everything is interesting now. I remember my parents giving me my first football shoes. I used to polish those shoes; I did everything I should have done because it was an important thing for me.
— Was your way to success hard?
— The hardest and the most memorable period in my career was when I had no documents. I couldn’t join the team during foreign training camps. I was 14 and at that time I was a member of FC Lokomotiv. My birth certificate said that I was born in Moscow so everyone thought that I had the required documents. When they told me to bring them my passport I couldn’t bring them anything except myself.
— My parents went to Moscow from Sukhumi when there was war in Abkhazia. They had no documents and no possessions. They changed numerous apartments and in the end decided to stay in Balashikha. They were waiting for an opportunity to go back but in the end they had to stay here.
The coach kept protecting me, he asked them to let me train, but couldn’t do much: how can they keep my record if I have no documents?.. I had to stop my training for about a year because of that. Then I got a passport and it felt like I only missed two days because of some sickness. I felt great.
— Recently we all saw the touching scene of you talking to those children who go to the field with the players prior to the game of the Champions League… Do you remember yourself as a kid when you talk to them?
— I always ask them: ‘Whom to you want to accompany?’ They tell me what they want and if there is a possibility to switch places with players they like we always do it. I want the kids to accompany their favorite players. I remember one child giving me a coin before the home match with FC Sevilla. There was also a note saying: ‘Best wishes to GeorgyDzhikiya. We wish you luck and success!’ We had to go to the field; I didn’t know what to do with the coin, so I put it in my sock. I spent the entire match with it in my sock.
— Let’s hope that this coin will work as a good luck charm during the game with FC Zenit.
— It would be great. I have another interesting story. Before the home match with FC Ufa started we went to the locker room. There was an A4 sheet of paper with my portrait. It was that boy’s birthday, he turned 7 that day. He was on tribune C, I asked people to find him, but they couldn’t because there were too many people. I wanted to give him my t-shirt. I was extremely happy to receive this picture because when kids make something for you they are sincere and they do it wholeheartedly. In case his parents read this interview: I would like to thank your kid for that touching picture and for his attention!