Branislav Ivanovic: "I think my role in the team is more than just that of captain and leader"

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Zenit St. Petersburg captain Branislav Ivanovic spoke about the team’s mood before the final stretch of the Russian Premier Liga, his role in the team and plans for the future.

With a 10 point lead and 11 games to go, are you the Russian Premier Liga champions already?
This is a huge gap in all honesty, but there is still a long way to go, especially in our league, which is very difficult. We must stay focused and not relax, because it only takes one or two matches not winning and we could be in trouble. We are focused one hundred percent. 

Was this year's UEFA Champions League a disappointment for you? Zenit going out with 7 points in the group with Lyon, Benfica and Leipzig.
Yes, this was very disappointing, but it doesn’t give a true reflection of the campaign. It almost went very well and in the past this amount of points could have seen us reach the playoffs. But this in the past now and we can’t change it. Now we just want to try to win the league and go for the Cup. Our aim is to win the double. 

Your contract is up in June. Can you tell us anything about the future?
I do not know what my future holds, but I hope that it will be fine, as it has been until now. We can win the league for the second season in a row, and when we start to negotiate I’m sure everyone will be positive. 

You’re almost 36 years old, do you have the same desire in training and the same competitive edge?
Having ambitions and fighting to win are the most important things in football. I’ve always said that age does not matter. The main thing is the result and getting that result. I compete, I keep myself in good physical and mental shape and I am motivated. I am pleased with how everything is going and I must maintain it and keep demanding more from myself.

Does your vast-experience help you as a locker room leader?
I suppose so. At any club, it is important to have a balance between experience and youth. Football needs many different factors to work well and I think my role in the team is more than just that of captain and leader. 

Do you ever think about your time at Chelsea and do you speak about it with your teammates?
I wasn’t playing much when I first arrived as I did not have much experience and the team was already a good one. Avram Grant was the manager and it was a tough time for me, but in June Luiz Felipe Scolari came and started giving me playing time, then Gus Hiddink replaced him and he was the man who gave me lots of opportunities to play and show what I could do. I played a lot under him and found my confidence, but then my best moments there came under Ancelotti. 

Do you still follow Chelsea, now being managed by your former teammate Frank Lampard?
Frank was the right man in the right place at the right time and I am sure he will succeed there. The problem managers have is they need results and titles, but I think that he’s doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances. He will deal with his current responsibilities in the same way he did as a player.

Do you want to become a manager in the future?
I'm not sure. This is a completely different job, which needs a different way of looking at the game and a different mentality. I have to think about that a bit later, as I don’t like to focus on two things at once. Now I am a player and I want to be fully focused on that. We'll see what the future holds.

You’ve won 105 caps for Serbia, now you’ve got to get through the play-off with Norway to make it to the Euros, can you do it?
This is a difficult match and it’s the first time in the playoffs for Serbia. There’s a lot of pressure as this is a great chance for Serbia to get to the European Championships. It will be tough, but Serbia deserves to be in the tournament as we had an excellent qualifying campaign.

When Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea, many in football were worried about overseas investment in football, but now more and more football clubs are in the hands of foreign owners ...
He is one of the most important people in my career and I always say this. When I first arrived in London, he really supported me and I appreciate everything he did for me. I think he changed the world of football, becoming the first in a long line of people to invested large amounts in football. He is a very intelligent person and has achieved great things in life. I look forward to seeing him again at Stamford Bridge soon. 


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