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Best Russian footballers of all time

Wednesday16 December 2020 | 18:30
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There have been many talented players in all of positions in the football history of Russia. Read on to find out more about the best Russian footballers of all time.

Russians are good in sports and at the Olympic Games, they're always one of top medal winner countries. Maybe football isn't the first choice of Russians but they do love it and have achieved some trophies in the important tournaments.

In the football history of Russia we can see many talented players in all of positions on the pitch, from goalkeeper to the striker.

The following article includes the best Russian footballers of all time:

If you're a football lover, you can use this list of famous Russian football players ever to discover some footballers that you might really enjoy reading about them.

Lev Yashin

Lev Ivanovich Yashin (22 October 1929-20 March 1990), nicknamed the ''Black Spider'' or the ''Black Panther'', was a Soviet professional footballer, considered by many as one of the best Russian footballers of all time.

He was known for his positioning, bravery, stature, imposing presence in goal, and acrobatic reflex saves. He was also deputy chairman of the football federation of the Soviet Union.

At a time when goalkeepers spent the 90 minutes standing in the goal waiting to be called into action, Yashin wasn't like other goalkeepers, he was a leader in the defensive line by imposing his authority on entire defense. A vocal presence in goal, he shouted orders at his defenders, came off his line to intercept crosses and also ran out to meet onrushing attackers.

His performances made an indelible impression on a global audience at the 1958 World Cup, the first to be broadcast internationally. He dressed head to toe in apparent black, thus earning his nickname the 'Black Spider', which enhanced his popularity.

He appeared in four World Cups from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 was chosen on the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. In 1994, he was chosen for the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, and in 1998 was chosen as a member of the World Team of the 20th Century.

According to FIFA, Yashin saved over 150 penalty kicks in professional football – more than any other goalkeeper. He also kept over 270 clean sheets in his career, winning a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic football tournament, and the 1960 European Championships.

In 1963, Yashin received the Ballon d'Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award. He was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS and definitely one of the best Russian footballers of all time.

He spent his entire professional football career with Dynamo Moscow, from 1950 to 1970, winning the USSR football championship five times and the Soviet Cup three times.

In 1971, in Moscow, he played his last match for Dynamo Moscow. Lev Yashin's FIFA testimonial match was held at the Lenin Stadium in Moscow with 100,000 fans attending and a host of football stars, including Pelé, Eusébio and Franz Beckenbauer.

After retiring from playing, he spent almost 20 years in various administrative positions at Dynamo Moscow. A bronze statue of Lev Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow.

He died in 1990 of stomach cancer, despite a surgical intervention in an attempt to save his life. He was given a state funeral as a Soviet honored Master of Sport.

In 1994, FIFA established the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the World Cup finals. He showed to all football fans, a new class of goalkeeping and by many he's considered the best goalkeeper of the 20th century, that's why he is chosen the first goalkeeper of the FIFA all-time teams.

He's a football legend and still the only goalkeeper who named the best player of the world, his legendary records makes him one of the best Russian footballers of all time and maybe the best of them.

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Rinat Dasaye

Rinat Fayzrakhman Dasayev (born 13 June 1957) is a Soviet-Russian football coach and a former goalkeeper.one of the most famous Russian football players ever and Regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during 1980s, he's considered the second best Russian goalkeeper behind Lev Yashin.

Throughout his club career, he played for Volgar Astrakhan, Spartak Moscow, and Sevilla. At international level, he played in three World Cups with the Soviet national team, also winning a bronze medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics, and a runners-up medal at UEFA Euro 1988.

He was awarded the title of the World’s Best Goalkeeper of the Year award in 1988 by the IFFHS. In 2004, he was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.

Nicknamed "The Iron Curtain" and "The Cat", Dasayev is considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and one of the best players in the world in his position during the 1980s.his shot stopping abilities and sudden long throws, which he would make immediately after stopping a shot, were the actions he was known for.

He was also known for his particular diving technique, which often saw him attempt saves with only one arm. A tall and well–rounded goalkeeper with a slender physique, he possessed an excellent positional sense, and often positioned himself in very deep positions, rarely straying from his goal–line.

Dasayev played for the Soviet national team at the 1980 Summer Olympics, winning the bronze medal. He appeared in the 1982, 1986 and 1990 FIFA World Cups, as well as the Euro 88, where the Soviet Union reached the final, only to lose out to the Netherlands.

In total, he was capped 91 times from 1979 to 1990, being the second-most capped player ever for the Soviet Union.

Dasayev retired from professional football in the early 1990s, following his time with Sevilla. Dasayev was a member of Russia's committee that won the bid to hold the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Unlike most of other legends and football pundits in Russia following Russia's quarter-finals feat in 2018 World Cup, Dasayev criticized the Russian team and believed quarter-finals can't be considered as an achievement.

He had to retire from active coaching in late 2018 due to knee injuries and currently works as goal-keeping consultant with FC Spartak-2 Moscow and Spartak's youth teams.

Roman Pavlyuchenko

Roman Anatolyevich Pavlyuchenko (born 15 December 1981) is a Russian footballer who currently plays as a striker for FC Znamya Noginsk. He's one of the most famous Russian football players ever.

He started his career at Dynamo Stavropol, and Rotor Volgograd, before transferring to Spartak Moscow in 2003 and play in top division of Russian football.

In his first season, Pavlyuchenko scored 10 goals, making him the best scorer in the team. Also they won the Russian Cup in that season. In his second season, he repeated his success at goal scoring and managed to score 10 in 26 appearances and once again became the most effective player on the team.

In his third season, Pavlyuchenko made 25 appearances and scored 11. In his fourth season, he was the top scorer in the league with 18 goals and the first player to do so at Spartak Moscow. This also became the first player in the history of Spartak, who was tournament top scorer after the creation of the Russian Federation in 1992.

At the next season which was his last season at Spartak Moscow they reached to group stage of UEFA Champions League and placed third.

During his time at Spartak, he was the club's most prolific goal scorer, scoring 69 goals in 141 games. His goal scoring, together with his loyalty to the club, earned him much respect and appreciation from the "Army of Red-White Fans".

In September 2008, Pavlyuchenko signed for Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £13.7 million. Pavlyuchenko made his debut for Spurs on 15 September against Aston Villa.

On 16 May 2009 in a 2-1 win over Manchester City, Pavlyuchenko was substituted 15 minutes before full-time for Fraizer Campbell. Unhappy at coming off, Pavlyuchenko stormed down the tunnel rather joining his teammates on the bench. His actions were criticized by Harry Redknapp, saying that he let the players and fans down.

Pavlyuchenko then apologized for his actions, saying it wasn't his best performance and was angry at himself after coming off the pitch and not at the decision to replace him.

In the 2009–10 season, Pavlyuchenko was fourth-choice striker for Tottenham, with Harry Redknapp preferring Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe to the Russian which Pavlyuchenko was linked a move away from the club.

However, Pavlyuchenko says that he cannot understand why the club didn't let him leave the club, without any explanation.

In the January transfer window of 2012-13 season, Pavlyuchenko signed a deal with Lokomotiv Moscow for a fee of £8 million with Louis Saha as his replacement. On 3 March 2012, Pavlyuchenko made his debut in his first match back at Russia since 2008 against Kuban Krasnodar in a 2–0 win.

During three seasons playing for Lokomotiv Moscow, Pavlyuchenko mostly was used as a substitute. Between, 2015 to 2018 he played for clubs, Kuban Krasnodar, Ural Yekaterinburg and FC Ararat Moscow.

On 31 August 2018, he joined the fourth-tier Russian Amateur Football League side FC Znamya Noginsk. He announced he will be with the team on part-time basis and play only in home games.

He then returned to Ararat for 3 months in 2019 and then back to Znamya, both at amateur fourth-tier. As Znamya was promoted to Russian Professional Football League for the 2020–21 season, he returned to professional-level football at the age of 38.

He made his debut for the Russian national team on 20 August 2003 in a friendly match. Pavlyuchenko earned 51 caps for Russia, and scored 21 international goals. He was named in the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2008, with Russia reaching the semi-finals, and was also in their squad for Euro 2012.

Valeri Karpin

Valeri Georgievich Karpin (born 2 February 1969), is a Russian football manager of FC Rostov and a former midfielder, primarily a right midfielder.

He's one of the top Russian football players in history, and one of best Russian midfielders ever. In 1989 he joined to Russian club, Fakel Voronezh.

In a single season playing for his team he was one of most effective players on the pitch. His good play for his team, Caused him to be transferred to a superior club.

In 1990 he joined to Spartak Moscow, during four seasons playing for Spartak, he proved himself to be one of the best midfielders in Russia.

He moved to Spain in 1994 to play for Real Sociedad in La Liga. After two seasons he joined to another Spanish club, Valencia.

In 1997 he joined to another Spanish club, Celta Vigo. He played for the team, for five seasons. In there he won UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2000, also they reached to final match of Copa Del Rey in that season but lost that match to become runner-up.

In 2002, he returned to his first club at Spain, Real Sociedad. He retired at the end of the 2004–05 season with Real Sociedad. During his time at La Liga he was one of best foreign midfielders in the Spain.

For Russia, Karpin has been capped 72 times, scoring 17 goals (he was also capped once for the CIS). He scored Russia's first goal after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in a 2–0 win against Mexico on 17 August 1992. Karpin played for Russia at the 1994 World Cup, Euro 1996, and the 2002 World Cup.

In August 2008, Karpin was named as Director General of Spartak Moscow, In April 2009, following a poor run of results, he replaced Michael Laudrup as caretaker manager of the club.

After the sacking of the newly appointed manager Unai Emery on 25 November 2012, Karpin took the responsibility of caretaker manager up until the end of the year. He later officially became the team's coach again and was not the caretaker anymore.

He appointed as the manager of Spanish club, RCD Mallorca, and Russian club, Torpedo Armavir. On 19 December 2017, Karpin was announced as the new manager of FC Rostov on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

In 2016, he started working as analyst with Match TV. On 16 February 2017, he was appointed editor-in-chief of football broadcasts for the channel. He left the channel on 24 July 2017.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Aleksandr Anatolyevich Kerzhakov (born 27 November 1982) is a Russian football manager and a former Russian international striker. He is the manager of Tom Tomsk.

Kerzhakov is known as one of best Russian footballers of all time and he's the most prolific goal scorer in the history of Russian football, with the number of goals scored in competitive games standing at 233.

He is described as a forward who likes to "drop deep to link with the midfield, expecting players to break beyond him" for whom he creates space.

He spent the 2000 season at amateur club FC Svetogorets Svetogorsk, helping them win the Northwest regional league by scoring 18 goals.

In 2001 Kerzhakov transferred to FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, debuting in March and scoring his first goal in June against Spartak Moscow. In 2002, Kerzhakov quickly developed a striking partnership with Andrei Arshavin which earned them both call-ups to the Russian national team. That year Kerzhakov went to re-present Russia at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

He became the top scorer of the Russian Premier League in 2004. During six seasons in Zenit, he scored 95 goals in 205 appearances and was the best player of the team.

On 28 December 2006, Kerzhakov transferred to Sevilla, signing a five-and-a-half-year contract worth €5 million. In two seasons playing for Spanish club he wasn't the first choice of coach and couldn't repeat his goal scoring records in Spain.

In February 2008, Kerzhakov signed a three-year contract with Russian side Dinamo Moscow. He quickly established himself as a first choice striker.

During the 2008 season Kerzhakov become the top scorer in the squad as Dynamo finished third to earn a play-off spot in the qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League.

In January 2010, Kerzhakov rescinded the last year of his contract with Dynamo and returned to his first professional club Zenit St. Petersburg.

During six seasons he scored 67 goals and was the best striker of the team. He became the champion of Russia three times with Zenit in 2010, 2011-12 and 2014-15 season.

With scoring 165 goals, Kerzhakov is the all-time top goal scorer of Zenit St. Petersburg.

A full international since 2002, Kerzhakov has earned 90 caps for Russia and played at two World Cups and two European Championships.

In 2014 he surpassed the record held by Vladimir Beschastnykh for most goals for Russia and became the outright top scorer for the Russian national team.

Kerzhakov officially retired on 13 July 2017 and was appointed the coordinator of Zenit's youth and academy teams. On 24 September 2020, he was hired as manager by the FNL club FC Tom Tomsk.

Eduard Streltsov

Eduard Anatolyevich Streltsov (21 July 1937 – 22 July 1990) was a footballer from the Soviet Union who played as a forward for Torpedo Moscow and the Soviet national team during the 1950s and 1960s. He is among the best Russian footballers of all time.

A powerful and skilful attacking player, he scored the fourth-highest number of goals for the Soviet Union and has been called "the greatest outfield player Russia has ever produced". He is sometimes dubbed "the Russian Pelé".

Born and raised in east Moscow, Streltsov joined Torpedo at the age of 16 in 1953 and made his international debut two years later. He was part of the squad that won the gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and came seventh in the 1957 Ballon d'Or.

Early the next year his promising career was interrupted by a rape scandal. The 20-year-old Streltsov confessed, despite inconclusive evidence against him. He was sentenced to twelve years in the Gulag system of forced labor camps.

Streltsov was released after five years in the camps and in 1965 he resumed his career with Torpedo Moscow. In the first season of his comeback, the club won the Soviet championship; in 1968 Torpedo won the Soviet Cup.

Streltsov was restored to the Soviet national team in 1966, and in 1967 and 1968 named Soviet Footballer of the Year.

By the time of his retirement in 1970 he had pioneered innovations such as the back-heeled pass, which became known in Russia as "Streltsov's pass".

Aged 16, Streltsov made his debut for Torpedo during the 1954 season, appeared in every league game and scored four goals. The team finished ninth in the league, a drop from third the previous year.

In his second season Streltsov was the league's most prolific goal-scorer, scoring 15 goals in 22 games as his side rose to fourth place.

Streltsov was selected for the Soviet national team for the first time in 1955, halfway through the season; his debut came in a friendly match against Sweden in Stockholm on 26 June, when he scored a hat-trick within the first 45 minutes as the Swedish team was defeated 6–0.

He made his final appearance for the USSR in the 2–0 1968 European Championship quarter-final first leg loss to Hungary on 4 May 1968.

The Soviets beat Hungary 3–0 in Moscow a week later, without Streltsov, to qualify for the final tournament on aggregate. Streltsov was left out of the tournament squad, and never played for the USSR again; after his final appearance, his international tally stood at 25 goals in 38 matches.

He retired from football in 1970, at the age of 33, leaving his final league record for Torpedo over both spells standing at 99 goals from 222 games.

Streltsov returned to Torpedo in the capacity of youth team manager following his qualification; he also spent a brief spell as manager of the first team before returning to the youth team in 1982.

He also took part in matches contested by former players before dying in 1990 from throat cancer, which his first wife Alla later claimed had been brought about by irradiated food served to him in the camps.

Seven years later, Marina Lebedeva, the woman Streltsov had confessed to raping, was seen laying flowers at his grave in Moscow on the day after the anniversary of his death.

Olympic policy in 1956 was to award gold medals only to members of the winning football squad who had played in the final match. Since Streltsov did not play in the final, he did not receive a medal.

He was posthumously given a gold medal in 2006, after this policy was changed retroactively to allow all members of winning Olympic squads to receive medals. Many people consider Streltsov to be one of the best footballers ever from Russia.

Albert Shesternyov

Albert Alekseyevich Shesternyov (20 June 1941 – 5 November 1994) was a soccer player for CSKA Moscow and the Soviet Union. He is generally regarded as one of the best Russian soccer players ever in Soviet football history.

He was the captain of great Soviet Union team in the 1960s and nicknamed '' Ivan the Terrible''. In ten years playing for his country, he earned 90 caps an appearance record only broken by Oleg Blokhin and Rinat Dasaev in the late 1980s.

As one of the best Russian footballers of all time, he represented his country at three FIFA World Cups and two European Championships. In 1964 European Championships they lost the final match to Spain.

During Euro 1968 the Soviet team faced Italy in one of the semi-finals. The game finished in a 0–0 tie, (including extra time), and according to the rules at the time the winner was to be decided by a coin toss.

The Soviet side were given the opportunity to call the coin, and as captain Shesternyov called it. Unfortunately for the team he called it incorrectly and they were out of the final. They finished in 4th place, after losing to England in the Third place play-off game. Shesternyov was captain of the Soviet national team for 62 of his 90 caps.

He played his entire career with CSKA Moscow. He was CSKA Moscow's youngest ever debutant at 17 years old and also the club's youngest ever captain at just 21 years old. He captained the club for nearly 10 years.

Shesternyov featured in the European Championships - UEFA Teams of Tournament twice and was the Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1970, he was also voted 3rd in 1966, 1968 & 1969.

After leading CSKA to their first national title in 19 years he chose to retire from football on a high at only 30. Because of depression, alcohol abuse, he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1994at the age of 53.

He was voted, by Ballon d'Or, the 14th, 11th, 10th and then 22nd best footballer in the world in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971 respectively.

During these years he was regarded as one of the best Russian soccer players ever and if he had chosen to join one of the many European big teams that were chasing him, many said he would have been even more so highly regarded in the footballing world.

He was a true leader for his club and country and played with all he had at the pitch. Not only one of best defenders of Russia football, he is also one of greatest Russian players ever.

Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Sergeevich Arshavin (born 29 May 1981) is a Russian former professional footballer who mostly- played as a forward or attack midfielder. He is regarded as one of the best Russian soccer players ever.

Arshavin began his career at Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2000. He went on to win numerous trophies with the club such as the Russian Premier League, League Cup, Russian Super Cup, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

During his time with Zenit, Arshavin was also named as the Russian Footballer of the Year at 2006. Arshavin was born in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, on 29 May 1981.

His father Sergey Arshavin played as an amateur footballer. Arshavin survived an accident that could have killed him when he was hit by a car as a child.

His parents divorced when he was 12, with Andrey having to sleep on the floor of a cramped flat with his mother. It was his father who persuaded him to pursue a career in football after his own failure to become a professional football player.

In 2000, Arshavin was included in the Zenit first-team squad, making his debut in an away win over English side Bradford City in the Intertoto Cup.

He played in various positions on the field, starting as a right midfielder, then as an attacking midfielder, and finally adopted the second striker's role playing on a flank or behind the target man.

During ten seasons playing for Zenit, Arshavin was always one of key players of his team. His speed, dribbling abilities and great vision in the field made him best player of his country.

Arshavin debuted for the Russian national team on 17 May 2002, but was overlooked for the Russia squads at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2004. His first goal with the squad came in a friendly match versus Romania on 13 February 2003.

Arshavin was included in Russia's Euro 2008 squad by Guus Hiddink, despite being unable to play in the first two group matches due to suspension. In the third match he returned to the main line-up and scored one goal against Sweden and helped his team to qualify for the next round.

In the quarter-final against the Netherlands, Arshavin repeated the feat with his part in Russia's two goals in the second half of extra time, providing the cross for Dmitri Torbinski's goal and scoring his own four minutes later.

They lost the semi-final match to eventual winners, Spain. Despite this, Arshavin was named in UEFA's squad for Euro 2008. He, along with the rest of the Russian team, received a bronze medal.

After his great performance during Euro 2008 and earning 6th place in 2008 Ballon d'Or, he was transferred to Premier League club, Arsenal on 2 February 2009.

During five years playing for Arsenal he played 144 matches and scored 31 goals. That’s why he is among the greatest Russian players in football history. His best performance for the club was against Liverpool on 21 April 2009.

Arshavin was named Man of the Match when he scored all four Arsenal goals in a tight match against Liverpool at Anfield, which ended 4–4. It was a thrilling encounter, and the first time Arshavin had scored four goals in one match in his entire career.

On 27 June 2013, it was announced that Arshavin signed a two-year deal with Zenit, moving on a free transfer. Arshavin stated that he was "very happy to put on Zenit's shirt again."

On 13 July 2015, Arshavin signed for Kuban Krasnodar on a one-year deal. His contract was dissolved by mutual consent on 1 February 2016.

On 18 March 2016, Arshavin signed for FC Kairat on a one-year deal, with the option of a second year. He also won the Kazakhstan Premier League's Player of the Month award for July 2016, copping another of such for September 2016.

Arshavin extended his stay at the club for an additional year on 9 November 2016. He was after such bestowed with the Kazakhstan Player of the Year award for 2016. Arshavin went on to win with Kairat the Kazakhstan Super Cup of 2017.

On 5 November 2018, Kairat announced that Arshavin will leave the club after his farewell game on 11 November 2018. On 3 December 2018, Arshavin confirmed his retirement as a player.

As one of the top Russian football players in history, he represented his country at two UEFA Euro Championships, and never could play in FIFA World Cup tournament. In ten years playing for his country he capped 75 times and scored 17 goals.

Valentin Ivanov

Valentin Kozmich Ivanov (19 November 1934 – 8 November 2011) was a Soviet-Russian footballer who played as a winger or as a forward. He was the co-leading scorer at the 1962 World Cup, and the co-1960 European Nations' Cup top scorer. He is definitely among the most famous Russian footballers of all time.

He spent 14 years in Torpedo Moscow, from 1952 to 1966. He participated in 287 matches for his club and managed to score 124 goals, the 9th all-time best record in the Soviet Championship.

With Torpedo Moscow he won the Soviet Cup and Soviet Top League in 1960 and 1965. He was the team's main forward beside Eduard Streltsov. These two built one of the greatest strike partnerships in football history.

As one of the top Russian football players in history, Ivanov appeared 59 times for the Soviet Union from 1955 to 1965, scoring 26 goals. He is the Soviet national football team's third-highest goal scorer of all time, behind only Oleg Blokhin and Oleg Protasov. One of best Russian players, Ivanov was noted for his pace, dribbling quality and technical ability.

Ivanov's four goals in the 1962 World Cup saw him named the tournament's top-scorer, along with five other players; he also scored two in the 1958 edition.

He was a member of Soviet Union football team at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games and won gold medal of that tournaments.

Ivanov married Lidiya Ivanova, an Olympic champion in gymnastics in 1956 and 1960. Their son, also named Valentin (born 1961), is a retired international football referee.

Ivanov, one of the greatest Russian players in football history, died on 8 November 2011, shortly before his 77th birthday, following a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

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Yuri Zhirkov

Yuri Valentinovich Zhirkov (born 20 August 1983) is a Russian footballer who plays for Zenit Saint Petersburg. He's one of the most famous Russian footballers of all time.

Zhirkov was born in Tambov on 20 August 1983. His father, Valentin Ivanovich Zhirkov, worked at the Revtrud factory and his mother was a postwoman. Yuri was the second child in the family. The family lived in poverty, struggling to buy basic goods such as food and clothes.

Zhirkov started his career at Spartak Tambov, where he scored 26 goals in 74 matches playing as a winger before leaving for CSKA Moscow.

Zhirkov joined CSKA Moscow in January 2004. Zhirkov made his debut in the UEFA Champions League on that season.

He had a great season and reached the final match of UEFA Cup with his team. They had to face against Sporting from Portugal at Sporting's own stadium. Zhirkov scored a goal in the 65th minute to give CSKA a 2–1 lead. The score would end 3–1, making CSKA the first Russian club to win the UEFA Cup.

At CSKA Moscow, Zhirkov became champion of Russia in 2005 and 2006, he also won Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup for 4 times.

After six seasons playing for CSKA Moscow, on 6 July 2009, Zhirkov joined Chelsea on a four-year contract for a reported transfer fee of £18 million, exceeding the £15 million Arsenal paid for Andrey Arshavin in January 2009, thus making Zhirkov the most expensive Russian football player of all-time.

During his first season with Chelsea, the club won the Premier League and FA Cup double, making it the club's most successful season ever. His only goal for Chelsea came on 19 October 2010, a volley in a UEFA Champions League match against Spartak Moscow.

On 14 August 2011, Chelsea announced the departure of Zhirkov to Russian Premier League side Anzhi Makhachkala. Zhirkov signed a four-year contract with the Russian team.

On 6 August 2013, Anzhi listed their entire squad up for sale as they announced plans to restructure the business, focusing on youth development. He joined to another Russian club, Dynamo Moscow.

On 26 January 2016, he joined to Zenit Saint Petersburg, the club which he's playing for till this date. Zhirkov made his debut for Russia on 9 February 2005, in a friendly match against Italy in Cagliari.

Zhirkov was named in the UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament after helping the team to the semi-finals. In October 2008, Zhirkov was named as one of the 30 nominees for the Ballon d'Or award, given to the top player in Europe.

Zhirkov was confirmed for Russia's Euro 2012 squad on 25 May 2012, playing in all three of Russia's matches as they were eliminated in the group stage.

On 2 June 2014, Zhirkov was included in Russia's 2014 World Cup squad. Russia again exited the tournament at the group stage.

On 3 June 2018, he was included in the finalized World Cup squad. He started in the first two group-stage games, and then returned to the starting line-up in the first knock-out stage game against Spain in the Round of 16.

However, his nagging injury forced him to get substituted at half-time of Spain game by Vladimir Granat, and he was not able to appear in the quarterfinal game against Croatia which Russia lost in the penalty shoot-out.

As one of the greatest Russian players in football history, he announced his retirement from the national side following the World Cup. Despite that announcement, he was called up to the national team once again on 16 March 2019 for Euro 2020 qualifiers. On 18 November 2020, he played his 100th match for Russia in the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League.

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source: SportMob