Ice hockey star Alexander Ovechkin, who has won the World Championships three times for Russia, has been appointed as the latest Ambassador for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Ovechkin was the first Russian hockey player to reach the 500-goal mark in regular seasons of North America's National Hockey League (NHL). He is also the first player in NHL history to receive four personal awards in the same season: the Art Ross Trophy, the Maurice Ricard Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy. Ovechkin has been named in the NHL First All-Star Team seven times.
“It's a huge honour for me to become a World Cup Ambassador,” Ovechkin said. “Football is my second passion and I'm really happy that the biggest football tournament in the world is taking place in our country for the first time. I hope all the fans experience memorable emotions and the players really light it up on the pitch. We'll see each other really soon at the Confederations Cup in 2017!”
Ovechkin was born into a sporting family. His mother twice won Olympic gold in basketball, while his father was a professional footballer.
“When I was young I was constantly playing all kinds of sports in the yard: football, basketball and hockey for example” he told FIFA.com. “However, when the time came to choose, I decided on hockey.”
Nevertheless, football was never far from the hockey star's attention. He regularly plays in exhibition and charity matches, plus he supports Dynamo Moscow and Barcelona. Ovechkin's favourite player is Lionel Messi, whom he had the chance to meet in Washington.
Ovechkin joins a team of Russia 2018 Ambassadors that includes national team goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, former players Alexei Smertin and Sergei Semak, distinguished pianist Denis Matsuev and legendary Soviet striker Nikita Simonyan, who captained the USSR at their debut World Cup in 1958 and is now the vice president of the Russian Football Union.
He also joins television, radio and public personalties like Yana Churikova, Sergei Belogolovtsev, Nikolai Drozdov and Lyasan Utiasheva.