We are pleased with the success of our favorite football players, especially with the Russian registration. But how can we measure success: by the number of goals, the number of played minutes per season or something else? Igor Smolnikov is the ultimate defender, who scored just 14 goals in more than 260 official games in the 10 years of his career. Nevertheless, many believe that it can be put on a par with the best players of modern Russian football. Why?

Biography: the history of hard work and improvement

So the future footballer becomes a graduate of Moscow “Lokomotiv”. Although he will play for the main team in just 15 games, diligence and willingness to learn will help him to make an excellent football career in the future. A significant role in this was played by Torpedo coach Alexander Gostenin and coach Yuri Semin, who trusted the player to play in the base. Club "Torpedo" then acted in the Premier League. Igor Smolnikov played for him 30 games on loan and after that he was invited to the main team of Lokomotiv.Igor Smolnikov - one of the best defenders of Russian football

Then there were leases to a number of top division clubs, including the native Ural. But nowhere football player who played immediately in midfield or defense, did not stay more than one season. In Sochi's "Pearl", Igor began to try himself in a new role - the extreme right-back, or lateral. The main thing was that he played, the coaches noticed how Igor Smolnikov was progressing. Zenit in August 2013 still bought the player for 6 million euros. But before that, the defender of 14 months lost 31 match in Krasnodar (at that time a team with big ambitions), having risen three times in price.

Performances for FC «Zenit»

This time can be safely considered the time of take-off in the player’s career. It is clear that without Igor’s hard work, without his persistent striving for perfection, with such competition it would have been impossible to achieve anything. Since the role of a football player is a defender, the number of goals is not the best indicator of success. But statistics can still tell us something.

Comparison table - statistics of matches and goals

This is not taking into account 5 successful passes for these 3 years. As it becomes clear from the table, Igor is progressing, and above all as a player of the edge, lateral, connecting to the attack. This is possible due to its characteristics. Let's discuss them.

Characteristics that make demand

First of all, the coaches appreciate the fact that Igor Smolnikov is a football player aimed at an attack. He is constantly invited to the national team. And he has repeatedly delighted fans with beautiful goals after running over the flank (on the verge of offside) for the back of the defenders. You can also recall one of the most beautiful heads from outside the penalty area for “Rostov”, when Igor struck a distant “9” like a cannon.

According to statistics, Igor Smolnikov:

  • deprives the ball of the opponent in more than half of all martial arts;
  • in 17 out of 20 cases his pass reaches the addressee;
  • allows a minimum of fouls;
  • pretty good leads around.

To play the role of the lateral (broker) you need good speed and endurance in order to have time to return to your main position as a defender after being connected to the attacks. This skill is also developed in Igor.

Injuries and failures are not a hindrance to progress.

Of course, not without troubles. In Zenit, the footballer was injured repeatedly. But the last injury led to a forced operation on October 18, 2016. However, now Igor is recovering. This is evident from the fact that he left for winter training with the team in order to participate in sparring sessions along with others.

Such leading European clubs as “Barcelona”, “Atletico”, “Milan” and Borussia Dortmund were interested in football. But after the unsuccessful performance of the Russian national team at Euro 2016, their interest diminished. And perhaps because of the very high price of holiday pay - 40 million euros (compare with 15 million for Shakhov). Igor himself would like to play in England.

All the above adversities could break anyone, but Igor is distinguished by perseverance. And Igor Smolnikov listens to the opinions of mentors, trying to extract a rational grain for self-improvement, and is in no hurry to draw conclusions. As Igor himself remarks: when you just focus on work, the experiences fade into the background and things start to get better.

Future promises hope

When in August 2016 a new coach Mircea Lucescu moved to Zenit, a new page opened in the club’s history. It is quite possible that a symbiosis of a hardworking player and an experienced mentor will give a lot of joyful moments and glorious achievements to fans of Russian football. And who knows, maybe we will see another rise in the career of Igor Smolnikov.

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