Although Russia’s domestic football league may not be as rich and prosperous as it’s billionaire businessmen, it does seem to be producing some decent young talent. Among them, 21-year-old forward Alan Dzagoev is enjoying life at CSKA Moscow; mixing it with the giants of European football in the UEFA Champions League and impressing with his suave-blend of killer passes and intelligent movements.
There are few professional footballers who would have the balls to label themself “a flop” after a game – especially if it were their international debut. But Alan Dzagoev did. Perhaps it was a ploy to undersell himself, perhaps he has a self-destructive side to his personality, either way his manager, Guus Hiddink, seemed happy enough with his performance: “Alan is a really clever player with the ability to make a killer pass and stretch the play. He proved that in Germany once again.”
(Disclaimer: TBo4 should not be held responsible for the f**cking awful soundtrack in the video above.)
Dzagovev, a member of the ‘I started my football career playing on the streets with my brother’ fraternity, was taken on by professionals when his mother, a passionate football fan, took him to the Terek Beslan youth team. But in 2000, Dzagoev moved to Vladikavkaz to play for a local youth team, Yunost. Within six years, he had impressed enough to earn himself a contract with Russian Second Division side FC Akademiya Tolyatti, where he made a handful of appearances before being scouted by the big names in Russian football.
Dzagoev then signed for CSKA Moscow before the start of 2008 Russian Premier League season. After coming off the bench a few times he made his full debut in a home match against Khimki, remarkably managing to score and make two assists. He also started in the side’s victorious Russian Cup final appearance of the same year.
If that wasn’t enough to consolidate his place in the starting XI, Dzagoev set up 3 goals in a match against CSKA’s bitter-rivals Spartak Moscow, helping them to secure a 5–1 victory. Dzagoev was also the man of the match when he scored two goals in a 3–1 away win against the then UEFA Cup champions, Zenit St. Petersburg.
To top it all off Dzagoev was chosen as the ‘Best Young Player of the Year’ by the Russian Football Union at the end of the ’07-’08 season.
After a string of impressive performances at club level, Dzagoev was called up to the Russian squad for the 2010 World Cup qualification match against Germany in October 2008. He made his debut as a half-time substitute, at the tender age of 18-years-old, and thus became the youngest outfield player ever to play for Russia, and the second youngest overall after his CSKA teammate and goalkeeping talent, Igor Akinfeev. Dzagoev nearly earned the team a crucial away draw as he flicked the ball past Germany’s goalkeeper René Adler, but his effort unfortunately struck the bar.
“A dynamic forward that can play in nearly any attacking position, he combines an explosive shot, great movement and an eye for a killer pass to make him a very talented footballer.”
Since his rise to footballing stardom in Russia, the 21-year-old has attracted the interests of Real Madrid, among others, although he has played down these rumours, admitting that should he move abroad, he would prefer a transfer to the English Premier League. And this so-called ‘dream move’ to the topflight here in England can’t be too far off, as Blighty’s scouts have been keeping an eye on him ever since he scored from a very tight angle in a Champions League match against Manchester United, which, as we all know finished 3–3.