March 26, 2023

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Not everything is going well for Smolnikov with Loko. This is his third visit to the club, which he was offended by.

Dzyuba in Loko is contradictory, but curious. Will not help in pressing and jerking, will give a side play and implementation in the penalty area

Dzyuba in Loko is contradictory, but curious. Will not help in pressing and jerking, will give a side play and implementation in the penalty area

A history of difficult relationships.

The transition to Lokomotiv Igor Smolnikov is lost against the background of the signing of Artem Dziuba. Although this transfer has its own intrigue: the former defender of the Russian national team spent the first part of the 2022/23 season at Torpedo. In general, this is the third transition of Smolnikov from Torpedo to Loko and back, although their fans have been at enmity for many years.

How will his comeback be received in Cherkizovo?

The press service of Lokomotiv in a short video presented the transition of Smolnikov as a return home. This is only partly true.

For the first time, Igor got into the Loko system from his native Kamensk-Uralsky at the age of 12. In an interview with Sport-Express, he called the chain of events that led him to Moscow a fairy tale: “In the spring of 2000, Coca-Cola organized a children’s tournament in Russia. We went to Yekaterinburg for the regional preselection. They took first place, made it to the final, which took place in Bronnitsy. Won! Before flying to Rotterdam, they managed to play a friendly match with their peers from Lokomotiv, who were coached by Ravil Salekhov. They drove 3:3, and in July he offered to move to a boarding school that was built in Cherkizovo. We returned to Kamensk after the Euro – a telegram from Lokomotiv: “We are waiting!”

Smolnikov, as a midfielder, went through the entire Loko school before graduation, but did not stand out. “They didn’t bet on me. By the age of 16 he grew up, got stronger. And before that, he was frail, physically lacking for 90 minutes, he didn’t hit the base, ”said Igor. Smolnikov’s agent Alexander Manyakov told : “Igor was ill for almost the entire senior year. He was small, and then he began to grow. Muscles couldn’t keep up with bone growth. Because of this, there were injuries.”

Smolnikov did not come in handy for Loko’s double, but played in Torpedo on the flank with Evseev. Semin convinced him to return

When, after the academy, the coaches of Loko announced the names of those who would be taken on a double, Smolnikov was not among them. Igor was not offended: “If you don’t play for the school, who needs you in reserve? So everything is fair. From our team, Rinat Bilyaletdinov chose guys who looked stronger.”

Then Smolnikov was called to the double “Torpedo” for a salary of $ 300 a month, there were no other options. Here, Igor immediately went: an iron place in the double and even a debut in the RPL in November 2006. “Torpedo” became the first club in Smolnikov’s adult career. At the end of the season, it fell into the First League, but a pleasant stage began for Igor. “Yartsev accepted the command and, as they say, believed in me,” Smolnikov said. – I played on the flank, as a midfielder, behind me was Vadik Evseev. Here, in the U-19 team, they left the group where Holland, England and the Czech Republic were, and went to the European Championship. All in all, it worked out well.”

At the end of 2007, Smolnikov’s two-year contract was ending – he did not want to renew it. Moreover, a line of RPL clubs lined up behind the young Russian: Moscow, Saturn, Spartak, CSKA. Among them was Lokomotiv. “He loved Loko very much, a pupil. He said he wanted to return to his native club, ”Manyakov said. Smolnikov noted that everything was decided by a conversation with Yuri Semin, who was then the president of the club. “I repeat, there was no resentment against the club for not taking the double. Otherwise, I would not have returned.”

In Loko, Smolnikov failed again. It seems that after that Igor was offended by the club

Lokomotiv coach Rashid Rakhimov did not trust the 19-year-old newcomer. “The coach had his own tasks. I am a young player, something goes wrong somewhere, and who needed me there? In general, just sat for a while. I played for the double, I tried, I didn’t give up, but it didn’t work out at all, ”he recalled in an interview with the Zenit press service.

Under Rakhimov, Smolnikov got a place at the start only once – in the Russian Cup against Metallurg Lipetsk. Igor got so excited that he couldn’t even speed up normally: “This happens when you don’t play for a long time. Finally you get a chance, and from a mad desire to show yourself, you do everything at random. You run around stupidly, fuss, waste your energy. And when you really need to make a breakthrough, it turns out that you are blown away like a balloon. On the moral and strong-willed, I lasted until the break, Rakhimov replaced. More with him on the field did not appear. However, there is no one to blame but yourself.”

After that, Smolnikov went on loan to Ural and Chita. A new attempt to gain a foothold in Loko was when Semin returned once again. At first, they wanted to send Igor to Loko-2 from the Second League, but then the farm club did not have a through application with the main team, and Smolnikov refused. “I went to the training camp with the base. On the last day, I plucked up courage and asked Yuri Palych: “What do I think? If not, I will look for a team, ”Igor recalled.

Semin replied that Smolnikov was in the cage, but without guarantees. In the 2010 season, Igor played 14 matches in the RPL, but only 5 times he started: “Semin put it in attack, then in midfield. At some point, he moved to the right flank of the defense. Today I remember those matches – laughter and sin. How could he play fullback?! I did not know how and did not understand! In tactical nuances – zero. There was no skill in this position – hence a million mistakes.

Smolnikov as a right-back at first looked so bad that Stanislav Cherchesov met him on a new lease at Zhemchuzhina Sochi with the words: “I watched you at Lokomotiv. You will never be a right-back for me!” True, due to personnel problems, Igor was nevertheless moved to this position, and Cherchesov’s assistant Miroslav Romashchenko meticulously explained the basic principles to Igor. In 2012, Smolnikov went on a more status lease – to Rostov. Igor quickly became the main right-back and no longer wanted to return to Loko. “This page had already been closed for myself by that time,” Smolnikov explained. – Tired of endless leases. And in “Rostov” reacted warmly. They trusted.” Rostov had the right to buy for 700 thousand euros, which he used – and immediately sold Smolnikov to Krasnodar for 2.5 million euros.

A season later, Igor ended up in Zenit, with whom he became a three-time champion of Russia, twice took the Russian Cup and the Super Cup, and also played in the Champions League.

The repeated parting of Smolnikov with Lokomotiv, apparently, did not turn out as smooth as the first. In rare interviews, he did not express this in any way (except for the word about “turning the page”), but when in 2015 he scored for Zenit for the former team in the Super Bowl, he ran to the guest stand and defiantly pointed to the name on the T-shirt.

“In the same season, I met him at the airport, asked what it was and what he was trying to show us,” Ivan Krylov, a representative of the Loko fan association UnitedSouth, told – He replied: “I have a complaint against the leadership of Lokomotiv. Well, run to the VIP-tribune and show the management how the Loko fans offended you? He mumbled something in response. This behavior raises much more questions than playing for Torpedo.

In Torpedo, Smolnikov took the number under which he played in the first run. And nostalgic for Luzhniki: “This is our stadium”

In the summer of 2022, in transit through Krasnodar and Tula Arsenal, Smolnikov returned to Torpedo, signing a one-year contract. In the social networks of Muscovites, the comeback was played modestly: “‎Igor Smolnikov is back at Torpedo! And again at number 28!

Igor never spoke about special feelings for his first adult team and did not give a single detailed interview to the club press service. But in one briefing after the match, he was a little nostalgic: “In 2008, we played the last matches for Torpedo right here, in Luzhniki, it happened that way. Now history is repeating itself. I think it is very pleasant for any footballer to play here. This is our stadium. I would like us to continue to play on it, and we succeeded, ”he said after the victory over CSKA in September.

The torpedo story of Smolnikov in the second run ended even faster than in the first one – and again at the initiative of the player. At the end of December, Igor terminated the contract with Torpedo unilaterally. Coach Andrei Talalaev wanted to leave an experienced defender, but it turned out that he had a free exit option in the contract. “The professional made a decision, understanding the complexity of the tasks and the likelihood of relegation, his beautiful career is useless,” Talalaev told Match TV.

Now Smolnikov will fight for survival in the RPL as part of Lokomotiv.

Loko and Torpedo fans are the main enemies. The president of Loko was presented for Lebedenko, but will they ask for Smolnikov?

The main question is how the fans of the club will accept him. There has been a fierce feud between Loko and Torpedo fans since the mid-1990s. analyzed its origins in detail.

Hatred of “Torpedo” and “Loco”: fans lost their teeth and eyes, called each other “Yids”, although they quarreled for no reason

Not the most numerous movements needed a feasible opponent for development. “That’s how we found each other,” Ivan, a fan of Loko, explained. The head of the Torpedo fan club and longtime fan Vasily Petrakov has an identical version. “Neither we nor they could pull big clubs. Both of them just needed an enemy. Then it has already acquired some kind of tradition. At the beginning of the 2000s, clubs’ fan assets periodically staged fights for dozens of people.

The most striking episode of the confrontation happened in August 2001. The fight in the stands of the stadium in Ramenskoye, where Loko played home matches, while a new arena was being built in Cherkizovo, was seen live by viewers.

After many years of absence of “Torpedo” in the RPL, the degree of conflict decreased, but did not fade away. “There is confrontation, and there is history,” Ivan from Loko explained. “There are a lot of hurt guys on both sides. Many have not forgotten and will not forget. It’s just that today the degree outwardly is not what it could be. But for those who raced in the 90s, zero and early 2010s, nothing has gone anywhere. When circumstances step aside, everything will return.

Despite the fan antagonism, there are now several players with a locomotive past in the Torpedo squad. Goalkeeper Vitaliy Botnar, defender Oleg Kozhemyakin and forward Maksim Turishchev are graduates of the Lokomotiv Academy. And 39-year-old Igor Lebedenko is a graduate of the Torpedo school, but in 2006 he spent a season at Loko. His transition then outraged the fan movement.

“We even talked with President Filatov, saying that we don’t understand this transition,” Ivan from Loko recalled. – Phil only learned from us: “It turns out that you have a misunderstanding.” It was strange not to notice it.

Will Yury Nagornykh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Loko, now be charged for Smolnikov?’s interlocutors in the fan community say that the transfer of the defender did not excite the movement for several reasons at once. Firstly, Dziuba who crossed at the same time causes more emotions. Secondly, against the backdrop of Fan ID and the general situation in the country, Smolnikov’s torpedo past does not seem important to many.

More questions from the fans are caused not by individual newcomers, but by the development of the club under the new leadership. “I have a skeptical attitude towards both newcomers. But the problem is not separately in Smolnikovo or Dziuba, but in the fact that it is now unclear on what basis the players began to come, – Ivan Krylov from UnitedSouth notes. – I see that even those who were delighted with the arrival of a new management team at Loko start to have a question: “What is going on in general?”. What is the club’s strategy, do we bet on the young or not. I have no understanding.”