Quincy Promes has fully recovered from his calf injury, and is ready to light the Russian Premier League again. We caught up with him before our game against Khimki to see what he had to say about our start to the season, international football, and much more!
Q: You missed almost all of our opening games of the season. You were injured in our first game of the season, but only returned in the last game before the break. What happened?
A: I had a muscle injury. Although the damage was minor, the recovery process was longer than expected. The calf muscle apparently needs more attention than others. I feel great now though!
Q: Have you ever had an injury as long as this?
A: This wasn’t my longest injury layoff, but I’ve never been injured this early in the season before. This made me quite angry, because I wanted to help the team when it mattered.
Q: You’ll turn 30 this year. Has your approach to recovery changed with age?
A: I think I still look 19, don’t I? There are people that lose their bodies with age, but thankfully this is uncommon for professional athletes. I rarely get hurt, and that’s a fact. This summer, I took part in the Euros and only had a week of rest. My body got tired after that, and this made me understand: “Hey man, take a breath, you’re not a robot.”
That being said, I worked really hard to get back to my best as soon as possible. Yes I’ll turn 30 soon, but look at Ronaldo’s age. It is clear that with age you need to work on yourself even more.
Q: The desire to play at the Euros was one of your reasons for returning to Spartak. What drives you now?
A: The goal is to become a champion again. I’m used to fighting for the top spots. I was first here, and the first at Ajax. Where are we now? I can’t accept this, I can’t reconcile with it.
Seven years ago when I came to Moscow for the first time, I was told that Spartak had not won the championship in many years. This wasn’t an acceptable situation for the most successful team in Russia. Then, I promised that I wouldn’t leave Moscow for another club until I had set the record straight, and I did. I’m going to say the same now. I won’t go anywhere until we win something significant. My motivation is to help Spartak return to the top, this should be in our blood.
Q: Spartak did well to qualify for the Champions League, but couldn’t get past Benfica in the qualifiers. How did you feel when watching those games against them?
A: It was painful. I also returned to play in the Champions League but football is a team game. In the spring there were players that decided the outcome of matches in our favour. It is a pity that nobody could step up to the plate this season. Now the Europa League is coming, and we have games against interesting rivals coming. I hope that things turn out much better for us. There is no need to be afraid of big names. I tell the youngsters about this.
We recently drew against Liverpool, beat Sevilla 5-1 at home; this was not that long ago. My goal is to help create an atmosphere where such results will not seem out of the ordinary. But first, we need to return to winning ways in Russia. Obviously, our current place is unacceptably low.
I can hear a lot of people saying, “Where is the old Promes? Where is his old style of play?” I try to stay positive, but it is important to remember that the team is one single organism. If everybody does not play well, it is difficult for a single individual to fix things. Moreover, the team cannot live in isolation from the rest of the club. There is no point in looking for an excuse though. You have to work and damn it, start winning!
Q: Benfica were a very serious opponent, but how do you explain defeats against Nizhny Novgorod and Sochi at home?
A: I can say just one thing, there was a fake Spartak on the field in these games. I spoke about the same to the team after the game against Sochi. I want to believe that this unpleasant streak is over. We have a great team, many players play for their national teams. The matches against Khimki and Legia are great chances to get back to winning ways again.
Q: The derby with CSKA is also coming up. How do you feel about that?
A: There is no point in talking about it. You don’t need to set the atmosphere for a game like that, it is evident just from the stature of the fixture. But first, we have two games that should help us get back on track. During the past few days I have felt that the atmosphere in the team is improving. The guys have ‘rebooted’ and want to fix the situation.
Q: In the off-season, Spartak appointed a new coach. The football that Rui Vitoria is playing is very different to what Spartak had last season. What do you think about this?
A: The tactics have changed, but the quality of the players has not gone anywhere. If the score against Sochi remained at 1-0, nobody would say that we played with an improper tactic. However, we conceded twice and lost. What is the reason? I don’t think it has to do with the tactics. We are a big club that must have several schemes in our arsenal, and we should be able to use them all equally well. For me personally, it makes no difference what tactic we play with.
Physically, we are also alright. Just the never-say-die mentality is missing, and we need to change this.
Q: Many key players missed our summer camps in Moscow and Austria. Did this affect the team?
A: At the Euros, we trained as much as Spartak did at the training camp. Every day, at the very highest of levels. Did we have enough rest, mentally? Perhaps not, it’s easy to say this in hindsight.
How much time has passed since the Euros? Two months? It’s time to forget about it. Top players are obliged to perform well for the national team, and then achieve success in the club. These are the players we want at Spartak.
Q: You played a bit at the Euros, and now against the background of an injury, you weren’t called up at all. You must be anxious to get back into the team in October?
A: It is always difficult getting back into the Dutch national team. The coach has a large selection of players. I’ve managed to play 50 games over the past seven years for the national team. If I am in good shape and get called up again, I’ll go. It’s like an extra bonus. Mr. van Gaal knows my potential. However I’m focussed on Spartak at the minute.
Q: In the last match against Turkey, Guus Til scored for the national team. Do you follow his progress at Feyenoord?
A: No, I am not interested in Feyenoord because I belong to Ajax in that sense. When Guus plays against my people from Amsterdam, I’ll see. I’m glad for him, but why couldn’t he score so much for Spartak?
Either he couldn’t get acclimatised, or he couldn’t use his strengths correctly.
Q: In the last days of the window, Maximiliano Caufriez joined us, and Alex Kral went to West Ham. What are your thoughts on these moves?
A: Caufriez is a good defender, he shows himself well in training. We help him adapt, and hope that he’ll show his best qualities on the field soon.
As for Alex’s departure, it makes sense. He’s an ambitious young player, and decided to take this great chance to move abroad. We’ve lost a good midfielder, but this is an opportunity for other players to prove themselves and gain a foothold at the base.
Q: We play Khimki next, and their captain Denis Glushakov has a lot of history with Spartak. Thoughts?
A: We are good friends. When we played together, he captained the Russian side of the team, and I handled the foreigners. We constantly discussed everything; deciding how to act in different situations. The season when we became champions was very successful. The atmosphere in the team then was excellent.
I know that after my departure, a lot has changed. The attitude of fans towards him has deteriorated, however I can only speak for myself. I remember him as a cool team player who helped Spartak win the gold.
Q: Now our captain is Georgiy Dzhikiya. Do you follow a similar setup with him when it comes to leadership?
A: Dzhikiya was already in the team that won the gold medal, and was gaining experience as a leader at the time. Now we’re in a difficult period, so it’s time for all of us to show our character together. I also had the occasion to wear the captain’s armband, and I feel like one of the leaders. At the same time, Dzhikiya is an excellent captain who copes with his role very well.
Ideally, everybody should be able to make a difference. If you look to the past, I would not be able to play well and Fernando would smash a free kick home. If Luiz Adriano was unable to score, I would take over the game and help. We need 11 leaders! Today, they should include the younger guys; Sobolev, Larsson and others. Now, Zobnin has emerged as one of our leaders.
Q: Does the #10 jersey also come with leadership powers?
A: I won’t lie, I would like to get it back. But, Bakaev has it now and I hope he proves that he is deserving of it!
Q: You already have one Russian tattoo which says “I believe in God.” Are you planning to get a new one soon?
A: When we win a trophy, I’ll come up with a decent Russian phrase to tattoo on me. I feel at home in Russia, and this is why I returned. My middle name is Anton for a reason! I’ve been to a Russian sauna many times, twice with the guys from Spartak!
Q: You are known for your love of music, but it’s been a while since we got a new track from you. Can we expect new music soon?
A: Football is my life, but music is just a hobby. I don’t have time to keep switching between the two. Some footballers play games for many hours, some like to fish. I also love this, but I get bored after a couple of hours. Music helps me open up creatively, it allows me to be distracted for once.
Many people in the Netherlands say, “You are a football player, play football. Stop your videos and songs.” I get this, but I can’t train for 24 hours a day! Is it bad when players have other talents and hobbies? For example, I will always be happy to record a new song with Spartak fans. Bratukha (note- Promes’ Russian nickname) is always open to interesting proposals!
Q: You mentioned fishing, have you already tried it in Russia?
A: No, I’m still waiting for an invitation from Selikhov. I know that he is a fan of this business and often fishes in his home region. Once I talked to him on video call, and he was again with a fishing rod.
Q: What else do you do in Moscow?
A: Fatherhood. Fortunately, the family lives with me now. Children go to an English school where they have Russian lessons, so they’ll be my translators soon! My wife manages things on the family side. This is very important support for me.
When everything calms down with regards to travel restrictions, and it becomes easier to fly, my parents will also come over. They liked being at Spartak’s matches!
Q: Recently, our home stadium celebrated its seventh anniversary. You have quite a few pleasant memories of the stadium, don’t you?
A:Yes, I was the first goalscorer at the stadium!
Q: You’ve scored quite a few goals here, but nobody has managed to score a hattrick here in one game. Is it time for this to change?
A: It would be cool. Ideally, I would like to score a hat-trick against CSKA. Nice dream, but it’s more important for us to catch a positive vibe. Not just between the players, but also between the fans and the club. I feel the negativity around us at the minute, and we need to fix this now.