Georgy Dzhikiya: ‘I’m preparing for the World Cup of 2018’
Georgy Dzhikiya: ‘I’m preparing for the World Cup of 2018’

Georgy Dzhikiya, the defender of Spartak and the national team of Russia who is recovering after the injury of the cruciate ligament he got on the 18th of January during the training camp in Dubai visited SE. During this hour-long conversation we found out that one of the key players of the national team did not lose hope and wants to participate in the World Cup this June…


– What good experience can we draw from Russia’s matches against Brazil (0:3) and France (1:3)?
– Everyone fully understands how strong those two teams they met are. There is room for improvement for our national team. Trust me, the coaching staff and other staff members want to see the team in good position. I’m sure that they don’t sleep at night because of trying to solve all problems the team encountered. As a player I can say that we will surely do our best.

– People often say that we have a problem with central defenders. Aren’t you offended?
– This is what people think. There are always those who will criticize you, but there are also those who will support you. If there was a problem with central defenders they would not have been inviting six or seven people every time.

– The choice is better among midfielders. Dzhikiya got injured and everyone is panicking though.
– I was not the only one to get injured — there also was Vasin. We played together as a pair and participated in all of the matches of the Confederations Cup together. These things tend to happen. I can assure you that the team has enough good players who can join the line-up.

– You said ‘we will do our best’. Do you mean that you are planning to participate in the World Cup?
– I just feel like a part of the national team. I won’t like: I am getting ready. There will be a moment when I will learn whether I can participate in the World Cup of 2018 or not.



– When will you know? Is there some ‘zero hour’?
– I don’t know anything about the exact date. The next training camp will be held more than a month in the future. I will surely devote all this time to training since I have to be in suitable physical condition. Then we will meet the head coach. We will talk and make a decision.

– But do you believe that you will recover before the World cup and gain the required body condition?
– Yes, of course. I have such a feeling inside.

– What do you think about your condition at the moment?
– I recently went to Rome to undergo a medical examination. The tests showed good dynamics, so everything is going according to plan, there are no complications. I have been training on the field for almost a week already. The only thing I can’t do is trying to score a goal. I can do everything else.

– Do you mean that there is a 50% chance of seeing you playing during the World Cup?
– I also need to earn the trust of the head coach. I will repeat this: I’m getting ready for the tournament. I don’t want to hide this face.

– In the national team of Russia with three central defenders you were playing closer to the right side even though you are a left-footed player. Did you have a hard time?
– I will go along the coach’s decision. Stanislav Salamovich knows that I’m a left-footed player, but he takes my other qualities into account. I’m ready to help the team in the position chosen by the coach.

– Do you mean that you don’t feel any discomfort?
– Well in reality I’m not that bad with my right foot (smiles).

– How often do you talk to Cherchesov after the injury?
– Stanislav Salamovich called me rather often during the first days of my recovery. He kept asking me about my health condition. Recently I came to the base of the national team and talked to everyone. I participated in a theory class and I spent the whole day with the team. I can call Cherchesov anytime and ask him for advice. We have a relationship of trust.

– Are you able to understand Berezutskikh and Ignashevich’s decision to not go back to the national team?
– I’m surely not the one to judge them. They are great players and I respect their choice.

– Was it hard to win the competitive struggle with them?
– I always on the side of justice. I will always prove my worth and make everyone see that I deserve a place in the starting line-up no matter who joins the team.

– Do you know that in the past the Georgian defenders were the best players of the national team of the USSR? We mean Chivadze, Sulakvelidze, Chokheli.
– Of course. I like it. I’m happy that there are people to look up to. They really were great players.

– Are you personally familiar with any of them?
– No, I only know players from younger generations.

– What about Kaladze?
– No. I know David Siradze, my former teammate from Nalchik. There is also Dzhanashiya who was the coach of Lokomotiv-2 when I was in the team.

– You must know Kvirkvelia, right?
– Yes, I’m friends with him. I can contact him any moment; we often have dinners together when we’re in Moscow.

– Who is a toast master when the Georgian players from the clubs of the RFPL gather?
– We don’t drink alcohol. As for being the toast master — I have never tried it. By the way, I don’t only talk to Georgian people. Recently I took Samedov with us to have dinner in a Georgian restaurant. The food was great, but that was it.


– Don’t you feel like the things that are happening to you during the last two years are fantastic? Just a while ago only Amkar’s fans and your friends knew your name, but now you must be one of the most famous players from Russia and an irreplaceable member of the national team.
– Of course, I couldn’t imagine that things would work out this way. I wanted this so much and I got it in the end. As for being irreplaceable — the coaching staff makes all decisions. I only have to show professional attitude and achieve good results. I am very grateful for what I have now and I value it highly.

– You became part of the crowd pretty quickly after joining Spartak. Didn’t you have any difficulties?
– The guys and the coaches warmly welcomed me from the very first minute. I never had any thoughts about being lonely or something like that. When I met the team in the airport Dzhano (Ananide — SE’s note) took me under his protection and everything turned out to be great. He told me about everything and showed me around, so I never had any problems at all.

– Dzhano himself must be under your protection right now.
– No. He’s still the one who is more dominant in our relationship, if I can say so (laughs). Dzhano spent nine years with the club. I won’t lie: he is one of my best friends at the moment.

– What was the first thing you told Dzhano after he ruptured his cruciate ligament when he played for the national team of Georgia?
– I tried calling him but he didn’t pick up because of obvious reasons. When his diagnosis was confirmed I wrote him a message. I can’t tell you what I wrote because it’s personal. I won’t lie: I never sent him any quotes; I just said that we all needed Dzhano and wished him fast recovery. The most important thing now is to ensure his recovery is going correctly and wait for him to return to Spartak.

– How did he react?
– Of course Dzhano was very nervous. It’s still hard for him because he barely recovered from a serious injury of his tibiotarsus and got injured again. I have the same problem with my cruciate ligaments, but he has to deal with pain that is more severe because he barely recovered from the previous injury. I am constantly in touch with him. We talked when I was getting ready for this interview. Dzhano started smiling already, so his rehabilitation is going smoothly. I’m sure everything will be fine.


–Luiz Adriano visited us recently. We asked him to create a symbolic team of those who were his teammates. He mentioned nine Brazilians and two ‘foreign players’ — Milan’s goalkeeper Donnarumma and Dzhikiya.
– I didn’t ask him to do it. He knows many things about football, so he keeps to the point (smiles).

– Would you find a place for him in your team?
– Yes, without a doubt.

– Were you surprised with the reaction of foreign mass media on your tweet about ‘chocolates’?
– This story is in the past, the case is closed.

– Adriano, for instance, promised to call white players of Spartak ‘snowballs’ during the summer training period.
– I won’t be offended, that’s for sure. We can say things like this or even worse in the locker room. He can have full freedom of speech and it won’t influence our relationship.

– Who was the strongest defender you played with?
– I feel comfortable with everyone in Spartak now. I hope they like playing with me as well.

– Can you name some forwards you don’t like?
– I can’t say that there are people I don’t like, but there are players who are difficult to go against. I don’t like them as forwards, but not as people.

– Which players do you mean?
– Dzyuba and Smolov give me a hard time.

– What about Salah?
– I don’t meet with him often. I guess I should be happy about it (smiles).

– Dzyuba sincerely supported you in social media when you got injured. When did you become so close?
– We really go along well. Of course we met in the national team. Artyom warmly welcomed me when I was summoned for the first time. He is a great man with incredible sense of humor. We spent one night playing console games during the training camp, started talking, and then we became friends. Our relationship does not depend on the schedule of matches of Spartak, Zenit and now Arsenal — we can speak freely when our teams don’t meet.

– Is Dzyuba better at playing console games or real football?
– He is very good at doing both. Well, I have to admit that Artyom is a really skillful gamer (smiles).

– Did he defeat you?
– Yes.

– Which teams did you choose?
– I don’t remember. We chose some European teams like Real and Barcelona (smiles).


– Professor Mariani who performed your surgery in a Roman clinic called Villa Stuart spoke vert highly about your professionalism and spiritual strength. Why is this doctor so cool?
– They say that he is one of the best specialists who deal with injuries of cruciate ligaments. My and Dzhano’s surgeries were done quickly and the quality was good. I am very grateful for everything! Each time Mariani saw me he played the hymn of Russia and said: ‘You will play for this national team’. He is a very positive man and he gave me some confidence every day. It’s important to recover with the right attitude.

– What was the hardest part of your rehabilitation?
– The first few days after the surgery were the hardest part. Then you start feeling better and better. You have to endure many things during the first week…

– Why?
– You start working from the very first day and it is rather painful.

– Many people supported you, but Samedov and Dzhano’s Instagram video is the easiest to remember. Ananidze said: “Dzhiii~, we really miss you’ and Samedov commented in a peculiar tone: ‘All right, I got it’. What does this joke mean?
– It was Dzhano’s idea. When you say something he replies: ‘Alright, I got it, yes’. That’s why Samedov said this. When you say: ‘Samed, you were the best during the training session today’ and he says ‘alright, I got it’. Well, it was only an example though.


– What do you mean?
– We don’t usually say that Samedov is the best (laughs).


– Do you like watching Spartak’s matches as a spectator or does it make you nervous?
– Of course I’m nervous. I am really upset when my team can’t score any goals until the last minute. It’s good that we have Fernando.

– What will it be if you defeat Lokomotiv — a shock, a miracle or an ordinary thing?
– I can’t say that I was shocked, but we all need to understand that the gap between the leader and other teams was huge. I hope that Spartak will catch up with them and win. It will be even better this way!

– The fans of Lokomotiv showed caricatures of those players who used to be members of their team — Glushakov, Yeshchenko, Samedov — during the snowy derby. You
weren’t included in this list. Aren’t you offended?
– I never joined Loko’s first team. I think that was why they decided to not show my portrait. I spent seven years in this club’s children’s school, and then I played for Lokomotiv-2 for three years, in the second division. They never invited me to the first team.

– Who was the head coach back then?
– It was Bilic. He invited me to visit the training session of the first team. I came to Bakovka, said hello and 15 minutes later I learned that they fired him. I guess this handshake was farewell.

– Do you mean that Kuchuk never counted on you?

– They transferred two new players when he became the coach, their positions were the same as ours — Artyom Popov and I. Kuchuk trusted those players.

– What about Popov’s fate? What happened to him?
– He left Lokomotiv and moved to Tomsk.

– Have you thanked Vladimir Yevseev, your former colleague from Amkar, for defeating Lokomotiv?
– Yes, I wrote him a message that said that I was grateful for him to saving the intrigue of the championship, but he must have been celebrating, so I only got ‘thank you’ as a reply.

– Were you surprised with this result?
– I called this match ‘scam of the year’. It’s a Perm style robbery. I told all the guys that they did great. Unfortunately I couldn’t find Olanare’s number.

– That being said, Amkar can repeat this ‘Perm style robbery’ by defeating Spartak…
– I don’t think so. Everyone has figured them out. I think that the field in Perm is in good condition now, so they will let them play here. It would be great to go there. If the match is going to be played in the Urals I will ask them to take me with them.

– A while ago Martin Jakubko called Gadzhiev a weak coach. Gadzhi Muslimovich helped you grow to be able to join Spartak and the national team. What answer can you give this Slovakian player?
– It’s his opinion. I can only speak about my relationship with Gadzhiev. I’m very grateful for what he did for me, for believing in me.

– What is the first thing you associate with the word ‘Amkar’?
– What do you mean?

– Well, isn’t it something like ‘cold’? This team is unpleasant because they rely on defenses.
– Yes, I guess the word ‘cold’ is about them. Juventus relies on defenses too, so their team is unpleasant too.

– Our reviewer Igor Rabiner wrote an article that compared you with Vadim Yevseev. Has anyone else told you this?
– Nobody has, but I had good relationship with Yevseev when he was helping Gadzhiev. I still have good relationship with him. He was a great defender.

– Were you the one who got him the tickets for the match of the national team?
– Yes, but he is a head coach himself, so he’s able to buy them now.

– Will you shout at the camera like Yevseev did after Wales if Spartak wins the gold?
– I will, with pleasure!

– How did you react on the fact that Amkar’s match against Lokomotiv was played in Cherkizovo?
– They had to play anyway, so Lokomotiv invited their opponents to its stadium. I don’t see anything bad here. It wasn’t for money — that’s for sure. Is Amkar’s secondary field in Ufa? Was it occupied?

– It was free, but their president said that it wasn’t lucky.
– Well, I guess Amkar will have to play all their matches in Cherkizovo. This place is surely a lucky one for them (smiles).

– Once you called Amkar’s fans mongrels...
– I meant the players, because Gadzhiev used to say: ‘Well, mongrels, let’s go to the training session!’ He chose this funny word for us.

– What does Massimo say?
– I don’t remember. Sometimes he calls us gladiators, you know why.

– Does Massimo show any progress in learning Russian?
– Yes. I visited the gym recently and asked him how he was doing. Carrera replied in Russian: ‘Thank you, I’m fine’. He must be getting better (smiles).

– Luiz Adriano compared the field in Kazan with the streets of Porto-Allegre where he played on asphalt during his childhood. What was the worst lawn in your career?
– The one in Dubai.

– Why? Was the grass that rough?
– No, I got injured there. The lawn is really rough though. The field is near the desert, so the grass doesn’t grow there naturally. I guess they used some chemical on it before the match, because its condition wasn’t the same during the match compared to the training session.


– Which Spartak is stronger — the one that we have this spring or the previous one?
– It was the previous one because I played for Spartak back then (smiles). To tell you the truth, if we don’t mention that match against Liverpool when we lost with such a horrible score, we kept showing good performance during the autumn, managed to defeat all opponents and gain a good start. We didn’t want the break to start, too. However, the team continues showing good performance now.

– Have you felt some level of satisfaction when you were watching Liverpool’s match against Manchester City? If City can miss three goals in half an hour, then nobody should say anything about Spartak.
– What do you mean ‘nobody should say anything about Spartak’? I felt good because I saw good football. I didn’t expect such a result, but you have to admit that Liverpool is a very good team.

– Is it the best club in Europe at the moment?
– No. I think that Real is the best: look at how they totally destroyed Juventus. I like the team from Madrid.

– Which players of Spartak can perform an overhead kick like Cristiano did?
– Luiz Adriano. And Kombarov, of course.

Kombarov must be a superstar. Adriano told us that Dmitry is stronger than Marcelo in defence and you told us that he does scissor kicks.
– He is amazing during the training sessions, he’s a true acrobat! He couldn’t do it during the matches, but I think he will someday.

– Which one of Spartak’s defenders would have prevented Ronaldo from scoring?
– I think it’s Yeshchenko. He would have tackled him and earned his team a penalty.

– Let’s be serious — what should you do to stop a forward in such situation?
– How can you stop him? All you have to do is watch. The defenders can only try preventing this, but when they missed a pass it’s too late. Why are you asking me how to defend the goal from Ronaldo? He scored 600 goals already, nobody can stop him and I’m here in Moscow with an injured cruciate ligament and all I can do is talk.

– You played against him and Messi. Why are they special?
– It’s because they have five ‘Golden balls’ each. Of course when people score 20 goals during 10 rounds all you can think is how to leave the field in once piece after meeting them. Messi and Ronaldo are not just football players — they are out of this world. You have your own set of skills and they have their own abilities… You have to adjust.

– Have you ever felt helpless when you played against certain opponents?
– No, I don’t remember feeling like this.


– This Thursday Leonid Fedun celebrated his birthday. Has the team prepared any special congratulations?
– After the match against Tosno he came to the locker room and said that winning in Samara would be the best present. Well, we did it — 3:1.

– Does the owner of the club visit the locker room often?
– Yes. The team members are always happy to see him. He always approaches the players, asks them how they are doing, and supports those who get injuries. After the match against Tosno he asked me about my leg. He even tries to support us after the matches we lose.

– Have you tested Leonid Arnoldovich sense of humor?
– No (smiles). It’s too early!

– Was winning the title with Spartak your best accomplishment?
– I don’t really have any achievements except the title and the victory in the Super Cup.

– What are you ashamed of in football?
– I can’t say that I was ashamed, but I didn’t like upsetting the team because of suspensions.

– Have you ever become extremely angry to the extent when you started being so rough that you felt sorry for your opponents?
– No. Even if I play with my good friends I totally forget who they are during these 90 minutes.

– You have a positive image. Is there at least one player in the Premier League who can say something bad about you?
– Maybe there are such people, but I never heard anything like this.

– During Karpin’s time with Spartak some people had fights. Haven’t you seen anything like this?
– There were no serious conflicts. Of course sometimes we can shout at each other during the training sessions, especially if we bet a restaurant bill on something. Why should you pay if something else can? You need to be rough here, to have some anger, but those are usual emotions for football.


– You partied harder than anyone in the locker room after getting the title. Which moment were they reminding you of all of the time?
– I only felt ashamed later because of throwing pasta. It seemed to be funny at the moment, but then I understood that I can’t do this with food. I may not need anything, but there are people who are hungry because they can’t afford a decent meal. Nobody should do this with food.

– What was the craziest thing you did as a player?
– I don’t remember any special moments. Everything seems to be calm.

– What about the time when Glushakov climbed on top of a car?
– Yes, it happened. He was emotional and he may have even damaged the car a bit. He must have excess weight (smiles). He will have something to remember. Those moments were great and positive.

– What do you think about your captain’s ‘Millerovka’?
– I won’t lie: I never tried it.

– During one of the interviews you mentioned the need to control your weight all of the time. Isn’t it even harder to do now, when you don’t have any active training practice?
– Yes. Things are even worse now. I’m trying to keep fit. I may gain a kilo, but it’s alright in such conditions.

– Was that why you chose loose clothes to wear today?
– I always choose bigger size. If my father likes something I give it to him. He has big belly (smiles

– Karpin penalized players even for excess half a kilo. What about Carrera?
– He has some requirements for players, too. Everyone knows about the weight limits. There are no real violations. Of course anyone can gain weight during a vacation, but Carrera understands this. He played football himself, so he gives us time to lose weight.

– Have you made jokes about Fernando’s excess weight?
– Well, he just likes eating, what can he do about it?

– Is hinkali your favorite dish?
– No, I like satsivi (smiles).

– Have people stopped mistaking you for Tasci on the streets?
– Yes. I guess they remember me now. I can’t say that I appear on the streets often. The schedule I have means that I have to go to work and then back home.

– What would make you shave your beard?
– Nothing would, at least now. I never shaved it completely and I’m never going to.

– Luiz Adriano said that you were the toughest defender of the RFPL. What about you? Can you give us the name?
– I guess it’s Kverkveliya. He never gives up and he has some level of sport boldness.

– Many fans are extremely happy to see your sliding tackles. How did you learn how to do it?
– I can’t say that I learned much. I just can’t follow our forwards properly, so I have to roll on the ground. Just joking!

– Are they right when they say that if a defender performs a sliding tackle then he made a mistake already?
– When I was a member of Lokomotiv-2 Oleg Pashinin kept saying that if you do this you need to kick the ball away from the field or at least earn a foul. You shouldn’t do it if it ends with you sitting on your bottom watching your opponent running away.

– Has Maksimovic managed to become part of the crowd after joining Spartak?
– I’m not the one to make such an assessment. I can say that he is a good guy; you can always talk to him. He also is a real professional. The most important thing is that he helps the team.

– Has Nikola learned Russian already?
– He understands everything when I talk to him.

– You said that you liked movies a lot. What was the most impressive movie that you watched recently?
– I watched one horror movie recently, but I don’t remember the name.

– Was it Juventus’ match against Real?
– It’s not a horror movie, it’s a comedy!

– Please name three movies you like the most.
– There is an old Russian show called ‘Grozovye Vorota’, it’s about Chechnya. I also like all Marvel movies, I usually watch them all. What else… I like ‘Titanic’, too.

– Who would have played Dzhkiya if they filmed a movie about Spartak?
– Dzhkiya!

– What about Carrera?
– Carrera should play.

Date: 7 april 2018, 12:00
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