How Russian football differs from the usual? I had lots of ideas, but to be honest, all they are stupid. How rhino differs, say, from giraffe? Of course they differ with their handwriting, what else?!
How we used to play? We used to ‘play as you go’. Well, like, just playing. But not all.
Lobanovsky trained footballers like astronauts. People went shocked. But the results were the thing. He taught to put pressure. What is pressure? Good pressure turns the enemy of professionals into boys. The boys who for twenty minutes before the end of the game ignore the ball. They dream only to crawl to the hotel — and to fall off the hoofs.
Who were we? We used to run cross-country races before the matches as well. We were very physically developed boys just like you are now. We thought we were wild boars. But when we played against Alexanenkov’s team — and he learned from Lobanovskiy — we realized that no shit, we ain’t any boars. I dunno what a monster you have to be to drive such a system.
Aleksanenkov turned his kids into steam engines, which squashed us flat. They called him up to us and he agreed to coach us. At the first training session, I thought I’ll die. And so on the second, and the third — he exhausted all our veins, making pudding out of us after training. We called ourselves «the favorite team.»
But during the game I, the goalkeeper — rested and giggled, looking at our enemy trying to attack. Sinitsa was the second goalkeeper. He was sitting in reserve and biting his nails. Our substitutes could make any champions at the count of ‘one’, but our substitutes just did not have a chance to get out on the pitch.
They did not have a chance until the bus with our forwards got lost in Omsk. How could that happen? Just. We checked out of the hotel on two buses. One came on time, and the other — on the next morning.
Our coach was running around the phone, triggered his wristwatch and urgently rebuilt the team. Sinitsa never played outfield, and he was released as left-handed forward. We were so confident in our defence that we played three forwards incomplete team. Lobanovsky never played such football. Lobanovsky played on defence. But our coach always admired the Brazilians, so we usually played «four-two-four.» But that time we were playing four defenders, two midfielders, three forwards.
Our coach gave Sinitsa his last Valuable Guidance:
— You are playing for two. Your task is to interfere with the defenders. As you get the ball — pass it to our boys. Press them!
How Sinitsa flew! He used to sleep and see himself in the game! Here, everything gone wrong — he only trained at the gate — and suddenly he is in the pitch! Out of confusion or so crammed delight — but when he stole the ball from the defender, he forgot to pass — but shot it from his left. The ball ripped the air with ringing hit the post and flew over the side without touching the ground. The stands gasped. Fans — ours and not ours rushed to kiss each other. Still, almost on the goal — but not a goal!
At the thirtieth minute the Omsk goalkeeper punched the ball with his fist from a corner, the ball flew on a smooth arc over all the penalty area, and Sinitsa, not allowing it to land, half-turned and with relish kissed the ball. The ball buzzed over the heads and rang the crossbar.
And two minutes before the end of the game the guys made him to do a penalty. And here again he boldly lit up the crossbar. The crowd was on a rampage. Fans were standing with ovation. All the channels savoured replays moments, and Sinitsa was transferred to the foundation.
Later we played against Sankt Petersburg. In that season the Peters were tearing into the ‘top three’ and desperately dreaming to deal with us. But how were they wrong! In the third minute of the match Peters defender drove back rolling into our Bondarenko. The judge, without hesitation, pointed 11 meters.
Sinitsa hit the bar, where else? In the middle of the match Bondarenko scored one goal. Five minutes before the end Kurylev shot from the right flank — and SInitsa scissors through it, hit the crossbar. He was the hero of the day.
We went to Krasnodar. Before the match, our coach slapped on Sinitsa’s shoulder:
— Crumble them bar, Andrew!
Andrew tried his best. In the third minute of the match and twice more in the end. After the game, he banged his head on that post. The guys tried to calm him down, but such bad luck would get anyone’s gut.
So — we played all season. Sinitsa did not score any goals, he bombed posts and crossbars. Sports channels have started to broadcast our games abroad and we made good money from those broadcasts.
But however much he aimed into the goal — bar remained his only catch. Which is strange: in training he kicked footballs into the goal so that his mother should never worry. But during the match — bar pulled his football like a magnet.
In Togliatti, after hitting, the ball bounced off the bar back to Sinitsa. He grabbed the ball with his hands and chuckled. The referee whistled and showed him a yellow card, Sinitsa doubled over with laughter. The referee showed the red card. Sinitsa was rolling on the grass, holding his stomach. I was terribly curious, but where I go out of the gate? — Well, I’m like Buddy on the circuit. The guys told me: his face red from crying, hiccuping, unable to speak, and squealing like a puppy. They dragged him off the field and sent on leave.
A week later, our «weightlifter» was back from vacation and continued his tour.
If in Aleksanenkov’s boots happened to be someone more superstitious — Sinitsa’s football career would be over by that. But our coach did not believe in coincidences and firmly counted on goal. After returning Sinitsa showed his class by double beating both bars in Yekaterinburg. His picture graced the covers of magazines. Newspaper headlines inclined and declined his name. They started writing about him abroad.
Our coach expected a goal, but it did not hurry and he got a phone call from somewhere above: ‘We don’t want this sort of football.’ Which proves that our Sports Commettee thinks perpendicularly. Leaders of the club scratched their loaf and settled the matter in their own way: «With the money that Sinitsa makes us with broadcasts — we can buy five Maradonas! But why would we want them?» They signed a new contract with Sinitsa, from which it became clear who is the most valuable player in our team.
We surely went to the winners. In each match Sinitsa distracted over half of the defence. Nobody believed in the post, all believed: now it is a goal. Once the ball got to Andrew, he tried to break through — and the ball would always hit the post. The crowd was roaring like a hundred typhoons with pet names.
At the quarter-final in Riga Latvian forward Viskovs curled the ball from a corner into the far post. The ball bounced into our defender’s hand. The referee signalled a penalty. Viskovs went to the ball. I started hypnotizing him, showing with my passes that I am going to jump right. Penaltist should not change the decision, and should not fluctuate. If you decided to hit the bottom right corner — strike! Viskovs looked me in the eye … and slapped the crossbar. The crowd was groaning. We were pleased. And again we got pleased, after fifteen minutes when this guy hit the bar from three yards.
Damn, how can you not hit from three yards? I missed the output — so he was hitting the empty net! However, I saw one handsome man managed to miss the goal from the goal line! I remember his face at the moment of realization, where he sent! Exactly the same face Viskovs had. I watched replays from all angles. He tore a tuft of hair from his loaf and stood with his mouth open. Close-up he looked quite good… I think, what would be he able to scream that made immediately freeze?
Our coach yelled, «This thing is contagious!» — And hung on Sinitsa, both were laughing like crazy. Men hugged them and roared something without realizing what.
We analyzed the game later. To hit the bar three times in a row — one should be a born Sinitsa!
Sinitsa shrug thoughtfully.
But that was just the beginning.
After that, was Minsk and the Belarusians attacked our post as many as five times. First, the attackers excelled, then their midfielder kicked at our gate from twenty meters. The ball struck the crossbar and went off to the audience. Sinitsa also did not disappoint. He dug three on the post and two in the bar.
The journalists made up ‘The Hundred Missed Goals Club’ — according to the type of Fedotov club — and called it: ‘The Sinitsa club’.
They sent to our coach the ‘Evening Bobruisk’ newspaper. There was an article about the new Belshina’s coach with his sweatshops method, called: «The first goal — the bar.» Photos of a ball flying in the post.
— Wh-why? — the Sinitsa’s club founder asked.
In Kiev, we had a friendly meeting. There were we, the local «Dinamo» team, Ukrainian Borscht with Dumplings, Varenikis, Shpikachkis and lots of other yummy celebrities. Our hosts at all costs wanted to find out the Sinitsa’s secret.
If only he knew it. Such a simpleton can be looked for in daylight with a torch — yet never be found. Ask him — he just gets upset. Well, the guy has no idea how it turns out that the post is like honey smeared for him.
Altogether, ‘Dinamo’ made us glad with six bars. Sinitsa limited himself with three. And also at the very end hitting from a corner he broke from behind the defenders and sent the ball nodded header in the direction of the right hand — nine. The ball slipped on a bar and went on a goal kick.
While we were wondering how to treat Kiev bars, the RAF developed rules of ‘Russian football’, according to which the goal — is a goal, and the post — is a double goal. Ta-da-da-da-da-da!
‘There is no football apart from Russian Football and Andrew Sinitsa is the Father of it!’
Well, guys, the break is over, go to workout!
Ok… Yes, he has scored his goal, he has! At the very first ‘Russian Football’ World Championships he came out and scored! Just lucky, I guess.