On 20 March 2012, during a press conference hosted by the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Local Organising Committee (LOC), the first Ambassador for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was unveiled. The man in question was none other than Igor Akinfeev, the CSKA Moscow and Russia national team goalkeeper.
The 25-year-old, who has already played more than 250 games between club and country, received the official certificate from Vitaly Mutko, Chairman of the Russia 2018 LOC.
”Igor is a true role model for millions of Russian boys, and he embodies all the best qualities of a man and a sportsman,” said Vitaly Mutko on handing the ambassador’s diploma to the keeper. “He’s a real pro and a gentleman, not to mention honest and decent. In a word, he’s a genuine captain and a leader of every team he plays for. Moreover, Akinfeev is one of those players whom undoubtedly carry the hopes of the Russia national team at the 2018 World Cup.”
Igor Akinfeev’s professional career began at the age of 16, when he debuted for CSKA against Zenit St. Petersburg. At the age of 18 he won his first senior cap for Russia before claiming a UEFA Cup winners’ medal with CSKA at just 19. Akinfeev is also a three-time winner of the Russian national championship and a bronze medallist from UEFA EURO 2008.
”For me it’s a great honour to become the Ambassador of a World Cup to be held in my native Russia,” said Akinfeev, just moments after being appointed. "I’m sure our host cities will welcome their guests with open arms and warmth. This is going to be a massive festival, and one the whole of Russia is looking forward to."