The Best FIFA Football Awards™

The Best FIFA Football Awards™

Thursday 17 December 2020

The Best FIFA Football Awards

Cherchesov: Five things you didn’t know about Russia's coach

Russia v Egypt: Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia -  Stanislav Cherchesov, Head Coach of Russia celebrates victory 
© Getty Images
  • Stanislav Cherchesov nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach award 2018
  • Guided Russia to the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals
  • gives you five interesting facts from his career to date

Few expected the hosts to impress to the extent that they did during 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Arriving as the lowest ranked team in the tournament, their hopes of success were roundly written off, with few believing Stanislav Cherchesov could deliver a World Cup to remember.

Right from the off, he was disproving the doubters. A 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia kicked off the tournament in explosive fashion, before a famous win over Spain on penalties ranks as one of th​e nation's greatest moments on the pitch.

Having been nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach 2018, we take a look at five things you might not know about Cherchesov.

Serial son of Spartak

Having trained with hometown club Spartak Alagir as a kid - town of only 15,000 people - he joined Spartak Ordzhonikidze (now Spartak Vladikavkaz) before moving to Spartak Moscow. It would be just the first of his five spells with one of Russia's biggest clubs. He went from being a promising young goalkeeper to returning as the successor of the legendary Rinat Dasaev, before later re-signing as a veteran figure at the club, then its sporting director and eventually its head coach.

Cherchesov was also in goal when Russia thrashed Cameroon 6-1 at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It was rather fitting then that Cherchesov was the man in charge of Russia when they next won a World Cup match by five goals all of 24 years later.

Stas and Jogi

2014 World Cup winning coach Joachim Low met Cherchesov during his spell as Tirol Innsbruck coach in 2001-02. Nearing 40 and the end of his playing career at the time, the veteran keeper seized the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the German.

"Cherchesov was one of the most exciting players I’d ever worked with. He was ambitious and influenced his team-mates in a positive way. I've met very few professionals like him," recalled Low at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The Russian tactician was subsequently saddened by his friend's lacklustre campaign in Russia this summer, saying: "Personally I was disappointed to see Germany make an early exit from the World Cup. Low is a good friend of mine, and he was my coach. We texted each other after every match [at Russia 2018]."

The old friends will meet again on 15 November, when Germany host Russia in Leipzig for a friendly.

Joachim Loew, head coach of the German national team talks to Stanislav Cherchesov head coach of the Russia
© Getty Images

Polish silverware

Cherchesov can point to achievements at every club he coached, even if it did not always translate into trophies. He was just one win short of making Spartak Russian champions in 2007, eventually finishing runners-up. With him at the helm, Terek Grozny (now Akhmat Grozny) and Amkar Perm both punched well above their weight with very modest squads of players. He steered Dynamo Moscow to six wins in six UEFA Europa League group games in 2014, before he finally landed his first silverware as a coach in guiding Legia Warsaw to a league and cup double in Poland in 2016.

Legia fans loved him and the Polish media turned up in droves for his press conferences. It took a while for that "strange Russian coach" to win over the locals, but soon everyone was lapping up his off-beat rhetoric and jokes. Memorably he was asked why he had decided to move from Russia to Poland, answering: "You see, my bear was eager to visit Warsaw zoo, and I just couldn’t say no to him".

A personal fan from Peru

Cherchesov never forgets the supporters that his teams play for, as was vividly illustrated after Russia sensationally beat Spain on penalties in the Round of 16. Midway through the post-match press-conference, Cherchesov rose from his chair and came down to find Lorenzo de Chosica, a Peruvian journalist and teacher living in Moscow who he had only met shorty before the tournament.

"Lorenzo! This is your victory, not mine. Lorenzo is number one – well, after [Igor] Akinfeev," he said, before presenting him with a Russia No1 jersey with Lorenzo's name on it. It was his way to say thank you to a man who had stood by him before the World Cup when the Russian media and many fans raged at their team's record seven-match winless streak and string of poor displays. Cherchesov later followed up his gift with a ticket for the Russia-Croatia quarter-final.

Spain v Russia: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
© Getty Images

A documentary star

I chose my own uphill road is a telling name for a documentary filmed in 1990 in his home region of Northern Osetia. It is the story of an ordinary Alagir boy who became USSR champion and winner of the Goalkeeper of the Year award. Packed with personal footage, it features the likes of his wedding and him helping out around the family home. “We didn’t like football at first, but it means everything to us now,” his father told the documentary makers, adding. “As a kid, he was forever running with a ball, misbehaving, smashing everything, breaking windows... But he's a good lad now.”

Looking back now at that young man of 27, one can already discern a coach-in-the-making by his measured delivery, frankness and systematic choice of words. “Every match is something new. It's only in chess that you can find all the openings in a book. You cannot foresee everything in football,” he said at the time. One wonders if even he could have foreseen the incredible journey the game would subsequently take him on…

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