This spring, Russia is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the kick off of the first edition of the Russian Football Premier League.
Since then, 3569 players have plied their trade at clubs competing in the league, some with greater success than others, and that has naturally given birth to quite a few arguments about which player was the greatest.
In honour of the anniversary, Russian sports newspaper Sport-Express, decided to find out once and for all.
By asking ten different coaches with a history in the RFPL, ten sports journalists and their own readers as well as comparing the grades the paper has given to the players after each match since the beginning of the tournament, it reached a verdict after a tight race between two legends.
Although all of the 27 players receiving votes are considered legends, there could only be one winner. And it was hardly a surprising one. In fact, had bookmakers offered odds on the outcome, fans should have looked at enhancedbets.co.uk to get a decent value of their investment, because the winner was no other than Andrey Arshavin.
The Zenit St. Petersburg legend played 13 seasons in the top flight between his debut in 2000 and departure in 2016, only interrupted by a stint in London with Arsenal. During this time he won three national championships, a single Russian cup, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, while also guiding Russia’ to the semifinals of the 2008 Euro.
The top ten players in the ranking:
|1:||Andrey Arshavin||Zenit St. Petersburg & Kuban Krasnodar||77|
|2:||Yegor Titov||Spartak Moscow & FC Khimki||76|
|3:||Ilya Tsymbalar||Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow & Anzhi Makhachkala||61|
|4:||Andrey Tikhonov||Spartak Moscow, Krylia Sovetov Samara & FC Khimki||60|
|5:||Igor Akinfeev||CSKA Moscow||59.5|
|6:||Vagner Love||CSKA Moscow||30|
|Aleksey Smertin||Uralan, Lokomotiv Moscow & Dinamo Moscow||30|
|Stanislav Cherchesov||Spartak Moscow||30|
|7:||Seydou Doumbia||CSKA Moscow||23|
|8:||Aleksandr Kerzhakov||Zenit St. Petersburg & Dinamo Moscow||21|
|9:||Dmitry Loskov||Rostelmash, Lokomotiv Moscow & Saturn Ramenskoye||20|
|10:||Hulk||Zenit St. Petersburg||16|
Surprisingly, Guus Hiddink, who coached Russia at the Euro 2008, was the only coach to vote Arshavin as the best player. In fact, half the coaches picked Igor Akinfeev, two picked Sergey Ovchinnikov while Yuri Zhirkov and Fyodor Cherenkov both received one first place too, just like Arshavin.
Among the journalists, the picture was different. Here, Arshavin was the big winner, as three journalists had him as the best player, with another four having him in the top three.
Lastly, the readers picked Spartak Moscow legend Andrey Tikhonov as the best player. He received 20.8 % of the votes, where Arshavin came second with 19.7 %. Interestingly enough, Tikhonov didn’t receive a single vote from the coaches, while the journalists had him on a shared second-place together with another Spartak legend, Yegor Titov.
A full break-down of how the various participants voted, and how the 27 players receiving votes ranked compared to each other, visit Sport-Express.
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.