- Boris Nikonorov was working in a factory seven years ago
- Working in dangerous conditions, he knew he had to get out
- Now he’s Russia’s leading goalscorer at the Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay
You never know who’s watching.
Boris Nikonorov was watching when Russia won the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for the first time in 2011. He had just finished his shift at the factory in his hometown of Yaroslavl where he worked “a very dangerous and harmful job where at any moment, we could inhale hydrogen sulfide and lose consciousness, possibly with fatal consequences."
Fast forward eight years and he’s currently Russia’s top scorer at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019 with five goals, playing alongside some of the heroes that he was watching win a World Cup on his phone, sitting outside the factory.
One of those players was Artur Paporotnyi, who laid on two assists for Nikonorov, who scored a hat-trick to help Russia advance to the quarter-finals, where a meeting with beach soccer giants Brazil awaits.
“Seven years ago I had a dream,” Nikonorov told FIFA.com, fresh off the adrenaline rush of another standout performance on the world stage. “My dream became a goal, which I followed step by step. I realised I had to quit my job to achieve the dream. I knew I had to practise beach soccer every day and to give all my energy to it.”
It’s a little surreal to watch Nikonorov playing out on the sand at the World Cup among members of that team he watched win the whole thing in 2011. And it’s not as if he’s a bit-part player either; he’s been their star, as he showed against Belarus and in scoring the winning goal in Russia’s opening match against Senegal.
“I’m aware of the fact that this is the chance that’s given to a person once in a million times, so I’m happy to be getting this opportunity. I can assure you I was working every free hour I had just to achieve this goal.”
Nikonorov isn’t satisfied with the five goals he’s scored, either. In the airport before leaving for Asuncion, Paporotnyi, who was joking, asked Nikonorov if he could score seven goals in Paraguay. Nikonorov quickly replied, “Of course I will! No problem.”
Assessing how things have been going for him in Asuncion, it would appear that Nikonorov wasn’t joking.