24 january 2018

Kirill Kostin: In Zenit, I had to compete with the best Russian defender

Today is Round 11 of the FNL.
Today's main game takes place in Orenburg, which hosts the league leader FC Krylia Sovetov Samara. For our company, the most intriguing match is FC Tambov vs FC Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod. The former club has eight PSC players, while Nikolai Pisarev coaches another two in Nizhny Novgorod.

The league's top scorer Andrei Kozlov is waiting for the stumbling FC Rotor in Krasnoyarsk, and the sensational FC Dynamo St. Petersburg hosts FC Volgar Astrakhan. On this occasion, we bring back the interview of FC Dynamo St. Petersburg midfielder Kirill Kostin. Looking for a new challenge, he left Zenit in summer to quickly become one of the key players in Dynamo.

Kirill spoke to Sovetsky Sport about Zenit, Igor Smolnikov, and his spell in Portugal. Surely, this is not his last interview to receive federal media coverage. Kostin is a good striker, he has speed, does a lot of work on the pitch and focuses on the result. He is also ambitious in a good way and always looking for new opportunities.

– You once left Zenit for a Portuguese club that was playing in the Second Division. Why?

– I considered Leiria's proposal to be promising. Portugal looked like a good country to start a career in Europe. That's exactly what I wanted at the time – to live alone, try another club, in a different country. This was my first such everyday and professional experience. Back in St. Petersburg, I used to live with my parents, and everything was so familiar. In Leiria, I got the first glimpse into what adult life is like.

– But that's the Second Division! Didn't you have the slightest chance of playing for the first team in Zenit? After all, you trained with the first team under Andre Villas-Boas.

– I did, but it never went beyond training. There are two national team players in my position in Zenit: Smolnikov and Anyukov. It was hard for me to compete with them being a junior. Now Smolnikov is the best Russian right-back.

– What makes you think so?

– I can see it. Igor participates in attacks, provides assists, scores goals. That is to say, he produces stable results.

– Is it true that Villas-Boas didn't pay any attention to young players in a club where he made millions?

– Each case is different. Someone makes the most of his opportunities, others don't. All the talk about the manager not giving a chance to the youth is to feed the poor. Zenit obviously needs ready-made players. There's nothing wrong in competing with foreign players like Hulk, Javi Garcia, Driussi, or Paredes. If a player is not ready to fight for his place on the squad, he needs to gain experience in another club.

– In Dynamo, you're playing with Ivan Solovyov. He was considered a great talent five years ago, but traded Dynamo Moscow for St. Petersburg, then patiently waited for a chance, but eventually failed to get on track in Zenit.

– Ivan had a contract, and he fulfilled it. Some things were beyond his control.

– Why did you come back to St. Petersburg from Leiria?

– I wanted to try playing on a different level. I wanted to go to Spain, maybe not the Primera Division, but at least Segunda, or to try myself in the Portuguese First Division. Unfortunately, there were no such options. In that kind of situation, Russia seemed to be a reasonable choice to continue my career in.

– You haven't played for the national youth team much. Why is that?

– I was called up by Nikolai Pisarev. We played a friendly against Belarus. Then the team changed its manager. The new one never called me up.

– Yevgeni Chernov always used to say that his dream was to play for the national team at the 2018 World Cup. Now his dream is coming true – the Tosno defender can soon debut for the national team and is currently training with the squad at their training center in Moscow.

– The World Cup in Russia is my dream too. I've been living this dream ever since Russia was announced to host the tournament. Most of all I want to play in St. Petersburg wearing the shirt of the national team. Of course, it is difficult, but not impossible. My club helps me, and I help my club, where I am trusted and given the ability to play.

– Who is going to win the 2017/18 FNL?

– Krylia Sovetov would be the obvious choice. In Samara, everything is consistent – the way the team plays, the squad, the finance. Other teams will be fighting for the second place and the play-off. There are many strong teams in the FNL this season, ones that want to achieve something, to make a name for themselves, or to remind people about themselves.

Kirill on Instagram 

The final three games of this round of the FNL will be played on Sunday, September 3, 2017. Today, seven matches are played.