31.12.2020

Retired in 2020: Best CSKA foreigner according to Slutsky, Zenit record holder, two world champions

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We have looked back at the careers of the players who appeared in the Russian Premier Liga and finished their playing career in 2020.

Hugo Almeida
RPL teams:
Kuban Krasnodar, Anzhi Makhachkala (both 2015)
RPL stats: 22 matches, 4 goals

Career highlights: The 2003/04 Champions League winner with Porto and bronze medalist of Euro 2012 with the Portuguese national team came to Kuban in January 2015. For them, Almeida scored two goals in 10 RPL matches, while in the Russian Cup he scored the winner in the 1-0 semi-final victory over CSKA. However, in the final, Kuban lost 3-1 after extra time to Lokomotiv, conceding all three goals after the Portuguese was substituted.

In the summer, the forward left for Anzhi as a free agent. He also scored two RPL goals for them, and in the Cup he scored a double in the 4-2 last-32 win against Sokol. Almeida only spent six months in Makhachkala; in January 2016, he terminated his contract and left for the German side Hannover. The striker has also played for AEK in Greece, Werder Bremen in Germany, Croatian outfit Hajduk and Academica in his homeland, he finished his career in February.

What he does now: Almeida works at Academica as a coach of the under-23 team.

Rasmus Elm
RPL Team:
CSKA Moscow (2012-2014)
RPL stats: 47 matches, 5 goals

Career highlights: In August 2012, the Swede was reunited with former AZ teammate, compatriot and friend Pontus Wernbloom, who had moved to Russia six months earlier. Elm scored all five of his goals in the RPL during October and November in 2012. Thanks to this, the Armymen secured first place and eventually celebrated the domestic treble of the league championship, the Cup and the Super Cup of Russia.

The following season Rasmus failed to score, which did not prevent CSKA from defending their RPL title, but the Swede completely missed the second half of 2014 due to stomach problems. At the end of the year Elm left the club, but before leaving Leonid Slutsky called him "almost the strongest foreigner in the history of CSKA", even compared to Vagner Love and Daniel Carvalho.

Since 2015 the Swede played for Kalmar, until in a March interview with the local publication Fotbolldirekt he announced the end of his playing career. "The best football player I've ever played with, and as a person, even better," longtime friend Wernbloom commented on the news.

What he does now: After finishing his career as a player, Elm joined the coaching staff of Kalmar.

Aleksandr Anyukov
RPL Teams:
Krylia Sovetov Samara (2000-2005, 2019-2020), Zenit St. Petersburg (2005-2019)
RPL stats: 353 matches, 14 goals

Career highlights: Anyukov's first match in Russian championships was for Krylia against Zenit in 2000, and these two teams filled his playing career. In 2004, the defender’s goal against Saturn Ramenskoye on the final matchday earned Krylia their only third-placed finish in the RPL, beating especially Zenit in the top-three race. The following summer, the defender moved from Samara to St. Petersburg, and in the autumn of 2007, also against Saturn, he celebrated his first championship with Zenit.

During his 14 years in St. Petersburg as a player, Anyukov won five league titles and became the club record-holder in the Russian history of the club for appearances as captain (134). Also in his trophy collection are the UEFA Cup and Super Cup, two Russian Cups and a Russian Super Cup, as well as a bronze medal at Euro 2008 with the Russian national team. Back in the summer of 2019, the defender started working at Zenit as a coach, but still played the last season as a football player for Krylia on loan and at the end of May, without waiting for the RPL’s restart, finished his career.

What he does now: In August, Anyukov returned to the coaching staff of Zenit.

Nikolay Dimitrov
RPL team:
Ural Ekaterinburg (2017-2020)
RPL stats: 82 matches, 8 goals

Career highlights: The midfielder came to Ural from Slavia Sofia in December 2016, following Aleksandr Tarkhanov, with whom he had worked at the Bulgarian club. The Bulgarian helped Ural reach the finals of the Russian Cup in 2017 and 2019, where they lost to Lokomotiv. Dimitrov made a mark in the history of the RPL, scoring the first goal of the 2017/18 season from the penalty spot against FC Rostov in a 1-1 draw.

In the rest of the league matches in which Dimitrov scored, Ural always won. His goals helped beat Akhmat Grozny (twice), Spartak Moscow, FC Orenburg (with a double), Enisey Krasnoyarsk and FC Sochi. In the spring of 2020, after the suspension of the season, the Bulgarian went home and decided to leave football for business reasons.

What he does now: In December, during an interview with Bloomberg TV Bulgaria, Dimitrov spoke about his desire to create the largest network of veterinary clinics in the Balkans, and his plans include deals not only in Bulgaria, but also in Romania and Turkey.

Benedikt Howedes
RPL team:
Lokomotiv (2018-2020)
RPL stats: 35 matches, 3 goals

Career highlights: When the German 2014 world champion signed a contract with Lokomotiv, Yuri Semin warned: “If Benedikt can withstand the competition, he will play, if not, no." Already in his fourth game - the 1-0 derby win over CSKA in September 2018 - the German scored the winner at the death, even though at that time his side was playing with a man disadvantage. In the spring, he scored in the second meeting with the Armymen, as Lokomotiv drew 1-1.

Loko finished the 2018/19 season as runners up in the RPL and Russian Cup winners, although the defender missed the final due to injury. After his return, the German was again the leading defensive player until the season was halted due to the pandemic. The Muscovites held onto their position, but in June the player and the club agreed to terminate his contract. At the end of July, the defender finished his career to be near his family.

What he does now: Howedes is an expert on the German channel Sky Sport, and in October he participated in the training camp of the German youth team as an assistant defensive coach.

Andre Schurrle
RPL team:
Spartak (2019-2020)
RPL statistics: 13 matches, 1 goal

Career highlights: The second German 2014 world champion came to Spartak on loan from Borussia Dortmund and inspired new partners. "When we were sitting in the dressing room and he came in, one of our players said: ‘Here we go - I used to play with him on FIFA’, and now he is sitting with us in the locker room, " said club captain Georgy Dzhikiya about the introduction of the German.

Schurrle made a bright start in the RPL with a goal against Akhmat and an assist in the derby with CSKA. However, these remained the forward’s only direct goal involvements in the Russian championship, and the last in his overall career. The German started 2020 with an injury, and after stopping the season left for Germany. On 1 July Spartak said goodbye to Schurrle due to the end of the loan, and after the termination of his contract with Dortmund on the 17th, the player announced that he had finished his career.

What he does now: Schurrle, who celebrated his 30th birthday on 6 November, is spending time with his family.

Aleksandr Kolomeytsev
RPL teams:
Amkar (2010-2015), Lokomotiv (2015-2020)
RPL stats: 214 matches, 16 goals

Career highlights: Although the midfielder started his professional career at Moscow clubs Torpedo, Sportakademklub, FC Moscow youth team, he made his RPL debut at the age of 21 for Amkar Perm, scoring the winner in added time in a 2-1 win over Tom Tomsk in only his second match. Kolomeytsev scored for Amkar in each of his five seasons in Perm, and the last (2014/15) was his most productive with three goals, including against reigning champions Zenit.

In the summer of 2015, the player returned to Moscow and signed a contract with Lokomotiv. "I just realized that I had hit the ceiling. It's time to test myself in a team of another level. Loko mean European cups, with a rich history and great ambitions," the player told Sport Express. He eventually achieved all of those things: the championship, two Russian Cups, the Super Cup and three matches in the Champions League.

However, Kolomeytsev also suffered a hip injury, due to which he completely missed the 2018/19 season. The midfielder played his last official match on 1 December 2019 against Dynamo Moscow, and at the end of July, at the age of 31, he announced his retirement.

What he does now: In October, Kolomeytsev again underwent surgery on his hip joint, with his recovery under the supervision of Lokomotiv doctors. The former player has already had a conversation about coaching. "Once I got a call from Kiknadze (Vasily Kiknadze, then general director of the club - Premierliga.ru), asked how I was doing and offered a job as a youth coach,” Kolomeitsev said to Sport 24. “I have not yet given a final answer. Although I have an interest in coaching, I still want to stay at home. And in the future, everything is possible."

Artem Fidler
RPL teams:
Kuban Krasnodar (2011-2013), Ural Ekaterinburg (2014-2020)
RPL stats: 164 matches, 3 goals

Career highlights: The native of Sverdlovsk played five years for Ural in the first division, but made his RPL debut for Kuban. The years in Krasnodar definitely turned out to be successful: a place in the top eight in the transitional championship in 2011/12, fifth place in the 2012/13 season and a debut in the group stage of the Europa League, where Fiedler played in three matches.

After being knocked out of Europe in December 2013, Fidler returned to Ekaterinburg and became the captain of Ural. All three goals of his RPL goals - two for Kuban and one for Ural - were long-range shots against Moscow teams: Dynamo, Spartak and Lokomotiv. In 2020, the midfielder didn’t make a single appearance, and ended his career without an official announcement.

What he does now: Fidler is included in the Ural squad for the season as a team administrator.

Taras Mykhalyk
RPL team:
Lokomotiv (2013-2019)
RPL stats: 83 matches, 2 goals

Career highlights: Having collected all Ukrainian trophies with Dynamo Kyiv, Mykhalyk almost achieved the same at Lokomotiv: a full set of medals in the RPL - bronze in 2014, champions in 2018 and runners up in 2019 - and three Russian Cups. The Ukrainian played most often for the Railwaymen in the first season under Yuri Semin (2016/17) with 24 matches in the RPL. He appeared in 10 games in the championship-winning season, but in his final campaign only made three appearances in the Russian Cup.

After the end of his contract in the summer of 2019 Mykhalyk played a year in the second-tier Ukrainian First League for Volyn, finishing fifth and just three points shy of a ticket to the Premier League. Afterwards he called time on his professional career. "I'll still play for myself as an amateur,” the former Lokomotiv player said in an interview with Footboom in August. “At the professional level, I have already played enough. You see, I wanted to help Volyn, but it didn't work out."

What he does now: Mykhalyk plays for Votrans in the Volyn regional championship and is thinking about his own academy. "There is a dream to open a football school in Volhynia," the defender told the Ukrainian magazine Football in November. “Maybe it will be possible to open a branch of Dynamo in Western Ukraine. But I do not know how much Dynamo will be interested in this. If not, I'll try on my own. But for now, we need to wait out this difficult time."

Also retired

Artem Kontsevoy

In 2003, the Belarusian forward played 10 matches in the RPL for Spartak Moscow and scored a double against Chernomorets. Six years later, he returned to the league as a forward for Spartak Nalchik, again scoring two goals in a season, after which he left for Belarus and played in the Top League. In February, the end of Kontsevoy's career was announced by his wife, and in the spring Artem himself became the coach of the BATE reserves.

Jorge Ribeiro

In 2005, the Portuguese played for Dynamo together with his older brother Maniche and was in the team’s top three RPL scorers with four goals, level with Danny, and behind only Derlei (13 goals). The defender went on loan to Malaga (2006) and Aves (2007) before finally returning to Portugal in 2007. The last club in Ribeiro's career was Casa Pia from the Portuguese second league: the parties signed a contract in July 2019, but in February they terminated it, leading to the ex-Dynamo player ending his career.

Branko Ilic

In 2009, the Slovenian defender played six matches for FC Moscow on loan from Betis, while from 2010 to 2012 he represented Lokomotiv. In July Ilic ended his career with Slovenian powerhouses Maribor.

Ovidiu Dananae

In the second half of 2011, the Romanian defender played four matches for Tom, but at the beginning of 2012 he returned. In the summer, he finished his career at Universitatea Craiova and joined the coaching staff of the reserve team playing in the second league.

Erwin Jaager

From 2005 to 2006, the Estonian played 35 matches in the RPL for Torpedo Moscow, and after leaving the Black-Whites, he played in Norway, Italy, Belgium and for Flora Tallinn in his homeland. After two native championships in 2019 and 2020, the defender announced his retirement from playing in December.

Photos: Vyacheslav Evdokimov/Zenit St. Petersburg; Anzhi Makhachkala; Anna Shaymardanova/Krylia Sovetov Samara; Valentin Kobyscha/CSKA Moscow; Ural Ekaterinburg; Aleksandr Pegrebnyak, Elena Rybakova/Lokomotiv Moscow; Aleksandr Stupnikov/Spartak Moscow


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