Aleksandr Samedov, Russian’s veteran winger, has called for ‘positive vibes’ from fans during the 2018 World Cup. Speaking to the media ahead of the tournament, Samedov told the media, “[Saudi Arabia] are a skillful team, who love to play [soccer]. Our goal is to deprive them of the ball… Artem [Dzyuba] has found the right words, he was speaking on behalf of the team. We want our team to be surrounded with more positive vibes. But it’s us who need to create this positivity, and that’s where we’ll try to do.”
In a separate interview with FIFA.com, Samedov continued, “No matter what, we have to get out of the group. We must win our first game, then our second and not leave everything till the last minute. I’ve been at three major tournaments before and every time it’s always gone down to the third match for us. No we have to do everything so it doesn’t come to this… We’re not sitting around worrying what will happen if it doesn’t work out for us. We know what we want and where we’re heading.”
Samedov, who plays in Russia with Spartak Moscow, has played 48 times for his homeland and scored seven goals.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Samedov Says That After His Wife, Yulia, Got Him to Convert To Christianity ‘Found’ Himself Again
Samedov said in a 2012 interview with Panorama that his wife, Yulia, convinced him to convert to Christianity during a period where he battled depression. Samedov told the website, “Several years ago I had professional problems in soccer. I started to feel depressed, and my wife advised me to go to church. I took Christianity and found myself again.”
During the same interview, Samedov said that he had been approached by Azerbaijan to play for their national team thanks to his father having been born there. Samedov said, “In 2003 I started play for Spartak and attracted attention. Then I visited Baku for the first time in the my life, and after my return I consulted my father about the offer to move to the national team of Azerbaijan. For this, I had to renounce Russian citizenship. I was convinced that this would be an additional obstacle in my soccer career, and I refused this idea. I’m not an enemy to myself.”
2. Samedov Says He Never Read Books in School; He Now Reads the Bible Regularly
In a March 2014 interview, translated via Sports Spectrum, Samedov said that he never read books while in high school and was much more focused on soccer rather than academics. Since becoming a Christian, the winger says he reads the Bible regularly. Samedov said, “I don’t look at reading the Bible like reading other books, because the Bible is something spiritual; it’s about faith. The Bible teaches us. It provides direction for our lives.” During the same interview, Samedov said, “Through [his wife], I made it.”
Samedov said, “My father is a Muslim. He’s Azerbaijani. My mom is (Russian) Orthodox; she’s (ethnically) Russian. Going back to the very beginning, I grew up between two camps, so to speak. My father told me that I was a Muslim. My mom didn’t agree with that. I didn’t really go in either direction. I lived my life in my own way. But a time came when I began to have problems in my career, in my life. I had already reached the age to be thinking about those things. And then I met my current wife, Yulia. She was a believer; she went to church. Seeming my problems, she simply said to me, ‘Sasha, such and such…’ I came to church once, twice, and I understood. My life began to change.”
3. Samedov Rejoined the Team He Grew Up With in January 2017
Samedov joined the Spartak Moscow academy in 1995 when he was 11 years old. He was signed to a professional contract in 2001 and made 47 appearances between then and 2005. In 2005, Samedov began a nomadic journey across Moscow’s various soccer clubs. Beginning at Lokomotiv Moscow until 2008 when he joined FC Moscow until 2009, from there Samedov when to Dynamo Moscow before rejoining Lokomotiv. Samedov spent four years at Lokomotiv this time as he played 128 times and scored 26 goals.
In January 2017, Samedov completed his journey and returned to Spartak at the age of 32. He was quoted by the Associated Press as saying he had “huge nerves but at the same time happiness to return to my first club after 12 years.” The transfer fee between Spartak and Lokomotiv was not disclosed.
4. Samedov Has Know His Wife Since She Was 17
Samedov met his wife, Yulia, when she was 17. Yulia has two degrees, one in media studies and the other in economics. The couple met while she was working in a casino reception in order to pay for her college education.
5. Samedov Didn’t Think Mo Salah’s Injury in the Champions League Final Was Too Serious
Samedov was quoted as saying in a Russian interview, via FourFourTwo, that Mo Salah’s injury at the hands of Sergio Ramos was a “game moment.” Samedov said, “The collision between Ramos and Salah was a came moment, nothing more. You can collide, fall and get up and nothing will happen. And you can fall on a flat surface and get a serious injury – no one is immune to that. I am pretty sure that Salah will be back before the World Cup begins.” Russia plays Egypt in their second Group A game on June 19.