Emin Mahmudov: Sitting and getting money is not for me
Last season, the Portuguese club finished 9th in Liga Sagres – that's what they call the Premier League in Europe's westernmost country. In terms of the number of titles won, Os Axadrezados ("the chequered ones", one of the club's official nicknames) are second only to the "big three" from Lisbon and Porto (Benfica, Sporting, Porto). In fact, only five Portuguese clubs have ever won the Premier League. Boavista is the only team that has managed to put an end to the supremacy of the "big three" over the past 70 years.
Located in Porto, the club offers memorable history, popularity, and comfortable life – the things Makhmudov has chosen to abandon in favor of a new career challenge. The coaching staff of Milli – the national team's nickname common in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan – should be pleased. Emin is the key player in the national team. He wants to play a lot, not just get playing time on schedule as he did last season. Emin has played 12 games for the Panthers (Boavista's another nickname substantiated by a sculpture near the club's stadium), scored a goal, but couldn't call himself a first-team player.
– I had a contract with Boavista for another season, but I decided to switch clubs.
– Why? You must've liked many things about Portugal.
– I did. Everything was great – the people, the food, the climate, and the club's attitude towards me. There were just two drawbacks: the amount of playing time I got and the style of football many Portuguese teams play. I thought it should be all ball control and passing in Portugal. The reality is that many teams would just hoof the ball straight to a tall forward and fight for their chance. It is all about speed. You have to do everything very quickly. The pace of the game is higher compared to Russia, for example.
– What is the average attendance in Portugal?
– If we're not talking about the "big three", five thousand spectators is quite normal. See, Russian people have nothing to complain about.
– You played 12 games for Boavista last season. A substitute player in an ambitious club. It is a common professional situation and a chance to make a name for yourself.
– I played all 90 minutes only three times. In other games, I would come on with 10-15 minutes left. It didn't feel right. I decided to break the contract after the first three rounds of the new season. I didn't play, so I figured the manager wasn't counting on me.
– You could still wait for an opportunity.
– Sometimes you have to step out of the comfort zone and make hard decisions. I'm 25, and I need to think about the future, not waste time sitting on the bench. Sitting and getting money is not for me. I need to be out one the pitch.
– Do you have any specific options to keep your career going?
– My agent deals with these issues.
– The Azerbaijan national team has started the 2018 Word Cup qualification rather well, trailing six points behind the leaders Northern Ireland. Do you think it is possible to close this gap in the remaining four games?
– Unfortunately, there are other factors apart from the team's performance. Anyway, we need to focus on winning in each remaining game. Each one is equally important.
– Will we ever see you in the Russian Premier League?
– I can't say anything specific right now.
– Are you following the RFPL?
– Of course. Not only the clubs, but players as well – my friends in particular. I am glad that Georgy Gabulov has recovered from an injury after long rehabilitation. He is the reason why I'm watching SKA-Khabarovsk closely.
– Who is going to win the title?
– Let's talk about it next spring. Zenit is looking particularly strong. It won't be easy for Spartak, where I have spent a few years, to retain the title.
Text: Prof-Sport Media.