‘There’s No Leader There’- Khabib Nurmagomedov Points Out What’s Wrong With The Russian International Football Team

Published 06/20/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – SEPTEMBER 07: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia is interviewed after his submission victory over Dustin Poirier in their lightweight championship bout during UFC 242 at The Arena on September 7, 2019 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC legend and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is an ardent soccer fan. Besides proclaiming it to be the best sport in the world, he has claimed that he would love to take up the sport as well.


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Hence, it’s natural that whenever he appears for an interview, the reporters will ask his opinion on soccer. Recently, the Dagestani mauler appeared for a conference, where he talked about his views on the current state of Russian soccer.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Khabib Nurmagomedov interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The reporter asked ‘The Eagle’ if he considers this Russian team as the worst in history. Khabib replied, “Look, we had the 2008 team. I didn’t hang out with anyone from that team. But I have friends from the current team. How can I say bad things about them?”


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“They would say: ‘Why didn’t you say that to our faces and gave that interview instead?'”

‘The Eagle’ further added, “You know, this team, there’s no leader there, first of all. As far as I can see, there is no team leader. And even if there’s one, he’s not doing his job.”

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According to Khabib, the Russian team has somewhat weak team play with players like Miranchuk and Cheryshev lacking international exposure. The domestic league clubs have also performed badly on the international level, according to him.

Khabib Nurmagomedov mentions the period when the Russian football team was doing good

Khabib further states that during the early 2000s or even 10 years ago, the Russian team had a solid bunch of players. Per Nurmagomedov, the team also did well 3-4 years ago when they competed in the last world cup.

‘The Eagle’ then compared the current situation of Russian international to that of Spain’s team. “Look at Spain, they had such a great rise 10 years ago,” he said. “But now they are far from their best. They are trying to regroup, rebuild the team. Same with our team.”


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The former UFC champion, though, wished his countrymen luck for the final EURO 2020 group game. “Now they are facing Denmark, I believe it’ll be decisive game for them,” he concluded.


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Russian team currently stands at No.2 (Euro cup ranking) spot in Group B, tied with Finland, but marginally ahead of them. Belgium tops the chart for now in Group B with Russia facing a pivotal clash with Denmark on Monday.


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What did you make of Khabib’s assessment of the Russian Internation football team?

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Akshyay Srichandan Mahapatra

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Akshyay Mahapatra is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He wished to combine his passion for the UFC (that he has been following since 2008) as well as his love for writing. This motivated him to enter the world of combat sports journalism.