Having spent most of his career in England, Victor Moses is perhaps the best person to talk to when it comes to British opposition. Thus, in preparation for our clutch European tie against Leicester City, we talked to Moses about his experiences in England, his first year in Russia, and a lot more!
Q: Victor, you have already played Leicester 13 times in your career. What do you expect from the 14th meeting?
A: Yes, they’re a team that I know very well. Every year they become stronger, and I’d say that they are one of the best clubs in England right now. They’re the holders of the FA Cup, and beat Manchester United last weekend. They are a confident and orderly team. The match will be very difficult.
However, I personally have a good record against Leicester. If I’m not mistaken, I think I only lost to them once in the Premier League.
Yes, you’re right! Just one defeat in seven Premier League games against them.
When Leicester visited Chelsea in 2016, they were the reigning champions, but we won 3-0. I scored one of the goals in that game, and we won the title soon after. I hope that we can win on Wednesday too, and hope to boost my personal record as well.
Q: Chelsea are still in first place in the Premier League. Do you think they can win the league this season?
A: If they continue like this, they have every chance. So far, they’ve only lost one game, and that was against City. They have a cool lineup and a strong coach. The three-defender setup is great and in Lukaku, they have one of the best forwards out there.
Q: Alex Kral recently went on loan to West Ham. How did you feel when the move was announced?
A: I wasn’t surprised, Alex is a great player and he went to prove himself at the highest level. This was his dream, I wish that he settles well in London and enjoys playing for West Ham.
Q: Did you advise him before he left?
A: Yes, because he always talked about the Premier League. Getting there is a normal desire for any ambitious player, and Alex has all the necessary qualities. He’s youthful, has high endurance, and the ability to play at a high level for 90 minutes.
Q: Last season you became friends with Pasha Maslov, however he’s been injured for a while now. Your partner in defence is now Max Caufriez, how do you like him as a player?
A: First, I hope that Pasha recovers as soon as possible. As for Max, everything is great! I think everybody appreciates his fearlessness and aggressive nature. Such qualities in defense will definitely be very handy for us.
Q: At Chelsea, you won not just the Premier League, but also the Europa League. How far do you think Spartak can go in the tournament?
A: I think the first few games have confirmed that anybody can beat anybody in modern football. After the victory in Naples, we rose to second place in the table, and we should strive to advance further. The home game against Leicester is very important in this regard.
Q: You were very active in the meeting with Napoli. Do you think that was one of your best performances for Spartak?
A: It’s hard for me to say, to be honest. I just try to play my football. I couldn’t have done it alone, the whole team won. In Naples we showed that we know how to fight for each other, which is a very valuable quality.
Q: How has the arrival of Rui Vitoria changed the team?
A: Mostly, the squad has remained intact. Barely anybody left, and there weren’t many newcomers either. It’s just that the new coach has his own philosophy, which took some time to get used to. At first, not everything worked out, but the grind is behind us and the results have improved. The atmosphere in the team is good, the coach is top-notch. Rui always talks about everything in a direct and honest manner; includes a lot of one-on-one communication. He motivates well and exudes confidence.
Q: You joined Spartak a year ago. How has your impression of Russia been?
A: I fell in love with Moscow, it’s a very beautiful city. I’ve been to different restaurants - Italian, Japanese, all sorts. I’ve walked around Red Square, around the centre of the city. In the winter it’s very cold of course, but the warm days are sufficient.
Q: When you first came, Domenico Tedesco asked the guys to communicate with you, and tried to integrate you into the team. Did this help your adaptation process?
A: Last year, not at all. Probably from the outside it seemed like I had difficulty adapting, but to be honest, I was very nervous about COVID. I went out of the hotel only for training sessions and matches, and stayed indoors for the rest of the day. Even now, I try to observe all precautions as well as I can.
Q: Your family lives in London, will they come to the game against Leicester in November?
A: No, I have a very small child, and the game will start pretty late. I’m sure they’ll be watching closely on TV though.
Q: Will you bring your wife and children to Russia soon?
A: Yes, but everything in due course. I have a contract with Spartak until 2023, so I still have time.
Q: Apart from Moscow, you seem to have somewhat of a connection to Grozny. Not only did you score a very important goal there, but you also helped out a Nigerian woman at the hotel that Spartak were in. What can you tell us about the story?
A: It’s true, the story was quite surprising. I didn’t expect to find a Nigerian waitress in a hotel that was so far away from my homeland. She was also glad, she said that she loves football very much and knows me from my performances for Chelsea and the Nigerian national team.
In that situation, it seemed right to help her with her finances. I don’t think she gets a lot of money from her humble job in Grozny. It’s customary in Nigeria to support your own people. I hope my gesture made her life a bit easier.
Q: Last year, you called Spartak the Russian Manchester United. Do you still hold this view?
A: Yes, because Spartak was and is one of the best clubs in Russia; this is obvious. Unfortunately we are in seventh place in the league, but only a third of the league has elapsed. We are just six points behind Zenit, and will play them in the next game.
It’s important that things have improved lately; we won several games in a row, and came back against Dynamo. Now we need to continue enjoying the game and gain as many points as we can.
Q: At the beginning of the season, many doubted that you had the same motivation as you did last year. Some said that you signed a permanent contract and lost your drive. What would you say to these doubters?
A: Well, first of all, I don’t read the Russian sports press. Secondly, this is just stupid. If anybody forgot, I missed a few matches due to injury. With great regret I watched the game in Lisbon on TV.
Football is my life, I am always faithful to it. The season started off roughly not just for me, but for the whole team. We are gradually improving, and I will do everything in my power to make the team happy in May. Why not set yourself the goal of making this season even more successful than the previous one?