The Tsars of Football

One personal campaign of mine has been to promote the world of Russian football to the English-speaking world in my own small way, and in partnership with Russian Football News Editor in Chief Toke Theilade, this series features ten figures who have shaped Russian football as we know it. We went for a mix of historical figures, those who crossed the divide from Soviet of Russian football, and more modern figures – a truly eclectic mix.

For the entire series, click on the title below.

The Tsars of Football

Andrei Kanchelskis 

BT Sport, Football, pic: 13th April 1994, FA, Cup Semi-Final Replay, Manchester United 4 v Oldham Athletic 1, Manchester United's Andrei Kandchelskis celebrates after scoring the 2nd goal

(Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

One of my all-time favourite Manchester United players. I once even bought a novelty Santa hat with his name on it; he did so much more than just entertain the masses (although he did that pretty well). When the Soviet union collpased, he was among a few players who could then choose which new nation to represent, and his boldness cleared the path for many more to follow.

Sergey Galitskiy

galitskiyTrust me, you’re going to hear a lot more about this man in the future. He is without question the most visionary owner in modern Russian football, and his outlook for the development of the game is refreshing and unhindered by politics. His club, FC Krasnodar, was only founded in 2008, but is already on the verge of Champions League football.

Oleg Romantsev

RomantsevAlso doubled up in The Masterminds series. He was the most brilliant but frustrating manager in equal measure, and for fans of his club Spartak will forever remember him as a legend. I say ‘his’ club; other than Nikolai Starostin, nobody else could claim to have moulded the success of Spartak as much as Romantsev did.