Andrey Arshavin - Biography

“I can't be infected with a superstar ego, because I was born with it” 

Despite being 1.72 meters tall, Andrey Arshavin is the biggest star in Russian soccer. He currently defends the colors of Arsenal in the English Premier League and captains the Russian national squad. 

Arshavin’s position on the pitch is forward – or second forward – but he is also often called a “playmaker” as his dribbling skills and a great strike are accompanied by the “beautiful mind” and an ability to assist. 

He was born in St. Petersburg, called Leningrad back then, into a typical working class family. It was Andrey’s father Sergey Arshavin who persuaded his son to become a pro soccer player in an attempt to fulfill the dream he failed to achieve himself.

The world might not have known about Arshavin as he had been hit by a car when he was a child, but he recovered and at the age of seven he was recruited to Zenit Saint Petersburg’s soccer academy – Smena.

The young soccer player’s childhood was a difficult one – his parents divorced when he was 12 years old. Yet Arshavin never switched his focus away from soccer and was able to make it into Zenit’s main squad.

Arshavin made his debut in professional soccer on August 2, 2000. Ironically, it happened on English soil. The 19-year-old replaced veteran Andrey Kobelev during Zenit’s 3-0 win over Bradford City in the Intertoto Cup.

The youngster had to wait another year to become a regular in the St. Petersburg team’s starting eleven.

In all, he spent eight seasons with Zenit, scoring 71 goals and delivering 100 assists in 281 appearances in Russian and international competitions. He became a hero for St. Pete fans, who nicknamed him “Shava”, and the real symbol of the club from the Northern Capital.

He was named Russia’s Soccer Player of the Year in 2006, but it were Arshavin’s next two years with the club – when

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat took charge – which turned out to be the most successful.

In 2007, the forward led Zenit to the long-awaited championship in the Russian Premier League as the club owned the title just once before, in 1984. Arshavin appeared in each of the 30 league games, putting in 11 goals and delivering the same amount of assists – more than anybody in the league. He was also very helpful for his team in their successful UEFA Cup 2007/08 campaign. The Glasgow Rangers’ fans considered Arshavin (4 goals and 10 assists) the most dangerous man in Zenit ahead of the Cup’s final game. And their worries proved absolutely right as the forward was instrumental on the pitch of the City of Manchester stadium. He was named the Man of the Match after masterminding both of his team’s goals in a 2-0 win.

The triumph in the UEFA Cup was followed by Zenit’s victory over Champions League winners Manchester United in the Super Cup. The team from St. Petersburg topped the Red Devils 2-1, with Arshavin spending 45 minutes on the pitch.

A month later the player made his debut in the Champions League, but the winning streak of his team in Europe came to an end. Zenit failed to qualify for the group, in which their rivals were giants Real Madrid and Juventus, and Belarusian side BATE.

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