Croatia assistant manager Ivica Olic shared a story about how his former teammate Yuri Zhirkov was initially hesitant to join Chelsea.

There have not been many Russian players in the Premier League or any top leagues outside Russia.

Former Arsenal star Andre Arshavin and ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko are probably the two biggest Russian footballers in the Premier League in the 2000s.

While at Chelsea, Zhirkov, Alexei Smertin, and Dmitri Kharine are the only three Russian players to ever don the blue shirts.


And according to Olic who spent four years at CSKA Moscow, the lack of Russian talents abroad had something to do with the players’ mentality as he told a story about Zhirkov’s response to Chelsea’s interest as an example.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

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He told 24Sata: “I remember when Yuri Zhirkov as a player of CSKA Moscow received an offer from Chelsea, everyone was happy except him.

“And then he tells everyone he doesn’t want to go to England.

“This is the mentality of the players in Russia, so I’m not at all surprised that Akinfeev, the Berezutsky brothers or Ignashevich stayed at CSKA all their careers, they didn’t go anywhere.”

UEFA Champions League - Chelsea v FC Copenhagen

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Zhirkov eventually joined Chelsea in 2009 but returned to Russia after just two seasons at Stamford Bridge to join Anzhi Makhachkala.

It was a brief spell but the Russian played an important back-up left-back role when Ashley Cole had a three-month injury spell back in 2010.

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