Viktor Fayzulin’s Trip Through Injury Hell

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Viktor Fayzulin during a game against Austria in November, 2014. Photo: Manfred Werner

80 minutes into the game against Amkar Perm on September 20, 2015, Viktor Fayzulin had to leave the pitch with an injury. The now 31-year-old midfielder was clearly in pain and was replaced by Artur Yusupov. The injury was a hard blow for Fayzulin, who had only just recovered from a long-term injury, but assistant coach Sergey Semak was optimistic after the game, stating that Fayzulin “was fine”.

Shortly after, Leonid Slutsky even called him up for a game with the national team, proving that everybody expected him to be fine.

However, Fayzulin never arrived at the national team camp, and only two days after his call-up, he was replaced by Lokomotiv Moscow winger Alan Kasaev.

Fast forward almost two years, and Fayzulin is yet to make his comeback in Zenit’s Blue-White-Sky Blue kit, and with a contract that expires after the season, it is getting harder and harder to remain optimistic on behalf of the midfielder.

Before his injury, Fayzulin was one of the best in his position in Russia, and since Zenit signed him at Spartak Nalchik before the beginning of the 2008 season, he was one of the corner stones of the squad.

In his debut season, he played a total of 36 games and scored seven goals, including one in the 4-0 demolition of Bayern Munich at the Petrovsky in the UEFA Cup semifinal, and in the final, he started on the opposite wing to Andrey Arshavin.

Other than the UEFA Cup, he also helped Zenit win the Russian and European Super Cup within the first half season of his stay in St. Petersburg, and it was clear that the Blue-White-Sky Blues had gotten their hands on a true gem.

Not only was a wonderfully gifted player offensively, Fayzulin was also a hard worker, which obviously made him a popular man among the coaches. Speaking about his midfielder in 2008, Dick Advocaat praised his vision and playmaking abilities, and stating: “Viktor has a huge potential, you can build a team around him.”

Later, Italian head coach Luciano Spalletti noticed the same thing, but adding that Fayzulin also worked hard on helping his defenders, something that both he and national team coach Fabio Capello appreciated. Under Capello, Fayzulin became an important part of Sbornaya, and he played full time in all three games of the 2014 World Cup after having scored three goals in the qualification.

In 2013, he even scored in a friendly against Brazil at Stamford Bridge in England, and he was truly on top of the world, with Aleksandr Nizelik, Capello’s assistant joking that perhaps he was actually from Brazil, because of his great technique, and not Nakhodka in the Far East.

None of this made any difference when Fayzulin went down that September afternoon against Amkar though.

Since then, he has gone through what can only be described as football hell. Suffering from knee joint arthrosis, a condition that usually hits people over 40 who are out of shape, every single step Fayzulin takes causes him almost unbearable pain, and over the past year-and-a-half, he has undergone five surgeries, one in USA, one in Russia, one in Finland and two in Germany. However, he is yet to be ready to train with the rest of the squad and will have to look to score in Football Star Online slot games at 7Sultans casino instead of on the training pitch. This summer, while his teammates were at a warm weather training camp, Fayzulin stayed in St. Petersburg, where he trained alone.

Meanwhile, the Russian public has almost forgotten about him. During his entire injury period, Fayzulin has preferred to keep the cards close to his chest, and with the exception of only a handful of stories, he has barely said a word. Because of this, he has become somewhat of an internet sensation, and the rare news about him are often met with comments like; “Zenit, stop it. We all know Fayzulin is no longer alive,” or; “Tell us where his body is hidden”.

While he has been on the sideline Zenit has changed head coach twice, and also moved Stadium, but this doesn’t mean that Fayzulin has given up on making his comeback. Speaking to Sport-Express in March, the midfielder revealed that he hasn’t given retirement a single thought despite his situation, that he is certain he’ll return to the pitch, and that he still hopes to play at the World Cup in Russia next summer.

The midfielder still doesn’t have a date for his return but continues to work with both Zenit’s doctors as well as Eduard Bezuglov of the Russian national team.

Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

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