Ex-player of "Rubin" and the Russian team Oleg Kuzmin: "Ilyumzhinov was always interested in football, and he attended all games"

- When did you realize that you could not develop a career in “Spartacus” and it was time for a change?

- It happened when I had been a member of a backup team for four years, At the same time I was training as a first-team regular. Sometimes, I played in friendly matches, but I was already over twenty then, so I was looking for adult football and I wanted to play more. The offer from Elista’s "Uralan", which was headed by Sergey Pavlov, came very handy.


Pavlov worked with Romantsev in the Russian national team, so it was easy to negotiate a lease. I was glad to play in the first division; after all, it was new football for me with new goals.

- Some people think that playing in FNL is more difficult than in the Premier League. Do you agree?
- In any case, it is not easier. In the late 90s/early 2000s, the first division was a very serious matter., A good team was formed in Uralan. There were many experienced players, who were already over thirty. It is good that I managed to get into such a company at a young age. There was always something to learn and many players from whom to take an example. This really helped me a lot in the future.
- You joined “Uralan” after “Spartak”. What do you remember of Elista?
- I cannot say anything bad about Elista and Kalmykia. Our country is big; Kalmykia is an exotic steppe republic. It was a great success for a young footballer to join a team that is fighting to enter the big leagues. I started my football career there and I am grateful to Sergei Pavlov.
- What surprised you most?
- For the native Muscovite everything there was exotic. I saw only the steppe through the portholes after landing in Elista. I thought: “Why did I come here?” Later, I learned that it was possible to drive around the whole city by car in 15 minutes.
- Can you tell us about the most memorable or ridiculous moment in your life in Elista?
- I remember that the World Chess Championship was held there. We watched great chess players playing. During the election campaign, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov invited football players of Elista to play football in the suburbs. I didn't get there, but I heard that it was impressive. They played not at a football stadium, but in the open field.
- Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of "Uralan", is a big fan of chess.
- He was always interested in football, and he attended all the games, if he was not on a business trip. Sometimes, he went to greet us in the locker room, and sometimes he joined us at the field. We lived in the City Chess. Chess and checkers were available in each cottage. Sometimes, we played with chess players during official competitions.