He was the captain of the national team, scandalized wherever he played, abruptly disappeared. Where did Igor Denisov disappear?
For Russian football, Igor Denisov is a unique and largely controversial figure. The daring midfielder has captained wherever he played: in Zenit, Dynamo, Lokomotiv, youth and even the main national teams of Russia. The only exception is Anji, where Igor spent less than a month. But as captain and leader, he found himself a problem in every team. Repeatedly he found himself in the center of the conflict, and often through his own fault. In the summer of 2019, Igor ended his career abruptly, doing it unexpectedly quietly. We figure out why Denisov left football so suddenly and what he is doing now.
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The beginning of a career at Zenit. Excess weight and failed transfer to Spartak
Denisov had problems from a young age. Already at 17 he was rejected by Yuri Morozov , at that time the head coach of Zenit. After watching, he sent Igor back to the double, and took as a basis only Vladimir Bystrov. According to Boris Rapoport, who knew Denisov from working together in the youth team, Morozov did not like the midfielder’s manner of playing. “Igor was too fond of holding the ball. Perhaps he lacked the speed of movement, ”Rapoport recalled.
Igor himself admitted that Morozov called him “fat-ass” (for his characteristic physique) and said that he would never play football at a high level. At the same time, Denisov, in his hearts, announced that he would leave for the Lipetsk Metallurg, to Anatoly Davydov. Many years later, Davydov, who had previously coached Zenit’s double, said that he personally tried to persuade Denisov not to leave the club. He also persuaded Rapoport to stay.
In the summer of 2002, a series of coaching changes began in the club. For six months, Zenit has changed four head coaches – Morozov, Biryukov, Rapoport and, finally, Petrzhela . It was the Czech specialist who gave Denisov a chance to prove himself. “St. Petersburg Youth”, where in addition to Igor there were Kerzhakov, Arshavin and Bystrov, made a rustle in the Russian championship. In the 2003 season, Zenit unexpectedly took off to second place, just three points behind CSKA.
A year later, Spartak came up with an offer to Zenit: the red and white tried to wholesale Bystrov, Arshavin and Denisov. “I then immediately said that I was categorically against this transition. We would not let the guys in, especially since the money offered by Spartak was simply ridiculous, ”Petrzhela recalled. By the age of 20, Igor was entrenched at the base of Zenit, and also got into the youth team of Russia, where he played along with Bazhenov, Torbinsky, Pavlenko and Savin. Of the same trio that the red and white tried to buy, Spartak took only Bystrov.
“His career went downhill.” How Bystrov was sold from Zenit to Spartak
The history of the scandalous transfer. After him, Bystrov’s friend, Igor Denisov, “stopped smiling ugly.”
UEFA Cup and a call to the Russian national team. Denisov very stupidly flew past Euro 2008
Igor became an integral part of Zenit in the late 2000s. It was Denisov who scored the winning goal against the Rangers in the 2008 UEFA Cup final. Many fans placed bets on this goal on the bookmaker’s website Parimatch. He grabbed the ball in the middle of the field, waited for the return pass from Arshavin and shot into the right corner from him. Already in stoppage time, the Scots were finished off by Zyryanov .
Despite the fact that Denisov was in great shape, he flew past Euro 2008. Guus Hiddink , the head coach of the Russian national team, invited Igor to a training camp, but received a completely different response from what he expected. “We called Denisov, but he refused. This is a footballer’s decision and we must respect it, ”the Dutch specialist said. At the same time, Zenit’s press service said that the club had not received an official invitation for Denisov to attend the training camp.
There were a lot of rumors and speculation around this situation. The truth was told by Alexander Borodyuk , the former senior coach of the Russian national team. “After the UEFA Cup final, I called Denisov. The conversation took place in the presence of members of the national team’s coaching staff. I congratulated Igor on his victory and noted his good game, after which I said that we were calling him to the national team to prepare for the European Championship. Denisov replied: “I will not come.” “Why?” I asked. He said, “I don’t want to.” This concludes our conversation, “Borodyuk told Sport Express.
Later Denisov admitted his mistake, which was confirmed by the words of Borodyuk and Hiddink. The midfielder allegedly took the initiative himself and asked for a meeting with the national team’s coaching staff. Igor apologized, but “not quite clearly”, according to Hiddink, explained the reason why he refused the call. In October 2008, three months after the European Championship, Denisov played his first match for the Russian national team. From 2012 to 2014, Igor took the national team to the field with a captain’s armband.
Denisov has a very difficult character. It got to everyone who came across his arm
In 2010, one of the most high-profile stories with Igor’s participation happened – a clash with Valery Karpin . Shortly before the end of the Derby of the Two Capitals, Denisov blurted out something to the head coach of Spartak. A scuffle began, a conversation in a raised voice … “It doesn’t matter where you play, but you also need to be able to lose,” Karpin summed up after the match.
The incident was discussed for a long time. Vlastimil Petrzhela, who worked with the young Denisov at Zenit, already then noticed the midfielder’s violent temper: “Igor has always been like that. The character is such, what can you do. At Zenit I had similar stories with him more than once. ” Boris Rapoport also noted Denisov’s tough disposition. According to him, even at the age of 16, Igor showed a “persistent unwillingness to lose” (as Karpin spoke about).
He repeatedly quarreled with Denisov and Dick Advocaat , but the Dutchman always managed to find a common language with him. Igor also almost got into a fight with Vladislav Radimov , who is almost 10 years older than him. “In 2010, I judged the two-sided. Denisov did not agree with my decision, he wanted to show his indignation on his fists. The partners managed to keep him. After that incident, I did not communicate with Igor for five years, ”said Radimov.
A new reason for Igor’s discontent in 2012 was the purchase of Hulk and Witsel . The expensive newcomers of Zenit were given a much higher salary than the Russians received. Denisov staged a boycott, in which he was supported by Alexander Kerzhakov. Both were exiled to the double, but almost immediately the rebels were returned to the base. Six months later, Igor was sold to Anji, where he again faced injustice – he had a falling out with Samuel Eto’o and turned out to be an extreme. “We had misunderstandings,” Igor recalled. – When Hiddink was removed, another coach came. Eto’O raised the whole team in front of him and said: “We don’t listen to him, we listen to me. We play as I say. ”
After the match, Denisov talked to Eto’O and Bussufa in a raised voice. The Cameroonian demanded an apology, to which Igor replied that he “did not apologize even at Zenit, to his favorite team”. When the information reached Suleiman Kerimov , the president of the club made a choice in favor of Eto’O. Denisov spent less than a month at Anji, after which he went to Dynamo. There Igor got into trouble twice. True, not immediately – for almost two seasons Denisov was an exemplary player, was the team captain.
“Denisov allowed himself a couple of tricks,” said Stanislav Cherchesov , who was then head of Dynamo. – He reasoned who should play and who shouldn’t. Before the match with Loko, he did not give me his hand when I was leading the team onto the field. We sat down to discuss this, and he told me (I am quoting you verbatim) that he does not consider me as a person or a coach, and for him I do not exist. ” Igor spent the ending of the 2014/2015 season in a double. Denisov returned to the base already with a new coach – Andrei Kobelev . It only lasted four months: in October, Igor was suspended from training with the first team due to the fact that he demanded the dismissal of the doctor. He kind of doubted Denisov’s poor health, who returned from the location of the national team.
Career decline and leaving Lokomotiv. What is Denisov doing now
When Dynamo flew to the FNL, Igor moved to Lokomotiv – first on loan, and then on an ongoing basis, as a free agent. Denisov blended well into the game of the “railroad workers”, and in the second year of his stay at the club he received the captain’s armband. It was he who was the captain in the 2017/2018 season for Lokomotiv.
Until the spring of 2019, Denisov regularly played in the first team, and then he simply disappeared from view. According to Sports.ru, Igor was offended by Yuri Semin , who decided to put him in reserve. In addition, Vasily Kiknadze also had questions for Denisov.: the general director of Lokomotiv believed that Igor did not deserve a contract of 1.5 million euros per year, signed during the reign of Ilya Gerkus.
Yuri Baturenko, a former assistant to Yuri Semin at Lokomotiv, recently told sport24 exactly how Denisov left the club. “Initially, Igor had a sore throat, as the team doctor said. Three days later we asked him: “What’s wrong with Denisov?” He replied that Igor had stopped answering calls … ”. Later, Denisov said that he would only talk with the club’s management. And he never appeared again. According to Baturenko, there was no conflict between Igor and Yuri Palych. Denisov was simply important – either he plays or leaves.
Since then, no one has heard of Denisov. The sports lawyer Mikhail Prokopets , who helped Igor at the later stages of his career, said that they had completed their cooperation and had not communicated for a long time. Vasily Kostrovsky , Denisov’s children’s coach, clarified the situation a little:
“We saw each other a month ago. Igor does not plan to return to football. Everything suits him, he lives for the family. He has a business, which is run by his sister. ”
Kostrovsky kept silent about what kind of business Igor had. Denisov lives near St. Petersburg, has four children, does not appear in public. Scandals in his life ended together with football.