On This Day: Roberto Carlos scores his first RPL goal

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On 25 April 2011, the Brazilian world champion, Roberto Carlos, scored his first goal for Anzhi Makhachkala.

The full-back actually first came to Russia way back in 1994 when his Palmeiras side arrived on tour to play Spartak and Dynamo Moscow. The South American visitors won both matches, and Alexander Tarkhanov, who then assisted Oleg Romantsev at Spartak, recalled more than once that the Red-Whites were offered to sign Carlos.

"The President of Palmeiras says: ‘This is our star. Take him tomorrow for 500 thousand dollars. And here is Amaral, you can buy him too; he’s also a smart football player…’ Tarkhanov told Sport-Express in December 2011. “Romantsev thought for a long time. Spartak had a budget of 3 million dollars. How could they take a football player for 500 thousand? They didn't dare. And in the autumn, Roberto Carlos already played at Inter.

In February 2011 the Brazilian signed a contract with Anzhi, which billionaire Suleyman Kerimov had taken over. By that time, Carlos had already won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and become world champion in 2002. Before him, there had been no World Cup winners in the RPL.

"Roberto at Anzhi was Kerimov's idea, from conception to implementation," the head coach of that team, Gadzhi Gadzhiev, wrote in his autobiography. “From the point of view of marketing, the idea, in my opinion, was brilliant. It fully justified itself. The invitation of Roberto Carlos caused increased interest in the club not only in Russia, but also around the world. They found out about Anzhi and started talking about us at football meetings, they began to look at Anzhi with respect, and Anzhi became a subject of real interest for both ordinary fans and serious football structures.

Another thing was whether Roberto Carlos, who was on the threshold of his 38th birthday, was able to really help the team on the pitch. At first, this was the most popular question which I was asked an infinite number of times: where is the line between purely sporting necessity and a PR campaign?”

Carlos was handed the captain's armband, and the updated Anzhi were given the task of getting into the top eight. However, they immediately crashed out of the Russian Cup, and in the championship they scored one point in the first two matchdays without even scoring. Then Gadzhiev's team began to rise: after victories over Rubin Kazan and Spartak Moscow and a draw with Tom Tomsk, they were sixth in the RPL table.

The Brazilian did not score in these games, but his chance fell in the game with Dynamo. Seventeen years later after the meeting at Petrovsky Park, the player and the blue-and-white team met at Khimki Arena. The referee Igor Yegorov gave a penalty for a handball by Igor Semshov and sent off Dynamo’s captain for a second yellow card. Carlos converted the penalty and scored his first goal in the RPL.

However, despite playing with a man advantage and twice leading, Gadzhiev’s team could not win. Dynamo, playing their first match under the leadership of Sergey Silkin, hit back thanks to goals from Aleksandr Kokorin and Zvezdan Misimovic, who equalized with a penalty in the 88th minute.

"Our team is a little upset." Carlos did not even discuss his goal and its significance with reporters after the match. “We led twice and could have won. We played well in the second half and controlled the ball well, so Dynamo's attacks were not so dangerous. We would have won, but that last-minute penalty ruined everything. Overall, the match turned out to be interesting and combative."

In the next round, the Brazilian again scored from the spot, and this goal brought a 1-0 victory over Rostov. In the RPL, Carlos also scored free kicks against Spartak Nalchik and Volga. These goals were the last in his playing career. In September 2011, he joined the staff of Andrey Gordeev, who headed Anzhi instead of Gadzhiev, and in the spring moved to the position of club director. 

In this role, the Brazilian oversaw the most successful season in the history of the team in 2012/13. In the RPL, Anzhi finished third under Guus Hiddink, and in the Russian Cup they reached the final, where they lost in a penalty shootout to CSKA Moscow.

In the summer, Carlos and Anzhi parted ways. The ex-footballer left for Turkish side Sivasspor to start an independent coaching career, and the Dagestani club reduced funding and changed its development strategy. The team finished that season bottom of the RPL and were relegated to the FNL.

The article uses quotes from Sport-Express

Screenshot from Soviet Sport (16.06.1994)

Photo by Anzhi


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