Interview With Russian Golazo Machine, Denis Cheryshev

The18's exclusive interview with the first star of the World Cup

Denis Cheryshev scored two beautiful goals in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup against Saudi Arabia. He was voted man of the match and made the game that everyone thought would be a total snooze fest an absolute stunner.

A few months ago we were lucky enough to visit Villarreal’s training ground, Ciudad Deportiva Villarreal CF and got to sit down with Denis for a nice interview. He’s just a great guy that was fun to talk to and even tested his English skills by speaking it throughout the interview:

"My name is Denis Cheryshev and I’m Russian and I played here for 4 years. I’ve been living in Spain since I was 5 because my father was also a football player, he came from Russia to play for a team called Sporting Gijon. I don’t know what I can say, haha. Do you have any questions?"

How does it feel to have the World Cup in Russia?

It’s always something special when you have a World Cup in the whole country and the whole country is participating and the reforms, like having the stadiums and the cities that have reconstructed parts and all that. Everything is looking wonderful and I’m really excited about it.

Does being the host nation bring more pressure on the team?

It’s kind of a weird thing like all matches are at home and everyone is backing you up so it’s actually something that would motivate rather than put pressure on.

So, you mentioned you moved to Spain when you were 5. So, you grew up here; in a way do you feel more Spanish than Russian?

It’s kind of both things. On one side my attitude would make me more Spanish because I’m more open, but how my parents brought me up was Russian and I’m very proud to be Russian and I have family over there and I like it as well. So, it’s kind of both things.

Can you talk about the feeling that you’re going to have in the World Cup? The World Cup is the biggest tournament in the world of any sport, and can you just talk about how important that feeling will be to you when you hear the anthem play and your team is about to kick the ball off?

At first, you have to get there, but it’s something that’s beautiful and really special. It’s a dream come true for all kids who have played the sport. Maybe not just about winning because maybe not all kids think about winning the World Cup and just playing in it is something that’s really special. So, I’ll try to do my best and be really committed to it.

This a silly question, but if Russia doesn’t win the World Cup, then who would you hope wins?


Do you feel a difference in the atmosphere of a more locally focused club like Villareal then a more globally focused club? Is there a difference in atmosphere for players in that regard?

It is different. The atmosphere is different in a big team everything is bigger and really intense. When things are good then they are really good and bad things are really bad. More local teams allow a player to grow they have relations, if you’re doing things good you can keep doing them good, when you’re doing bad they correct you and you do it again. So, it’s more calm in that sense.

When a country like the US misses the World Cup is that even a big deal to people in Spain? We’re kind of going through this big identity crisis and wondering what to fix and there’s all this talk about what happens next, does that even matter on a global stage?

The US has always been in the World Cup, at this point they are not. So, they missed it, but for sure if you do things right they will be in the next one. I actually made my debut against the USA, it was in Russia in 2012.

Did you like playing against them?

Only once, it was very special because it was my first international match. I will always remember it.

Is there a specific city in Russia that will be the go to spot for the most insane atmosphere?

I would say Moscow because they have a great stadium and Spartak plays there, so I think people will enjoy.

How is it going to be to play against your teammate in the opening game against Saudi Arabia?

We will see! Haha!

When you play teammates, do you know little things to beat him or is it overall difficult to read?

I don’t know if I’ll be able to beat him, but I know to tell my national teammates what kind of player he is.

Since the host nation automatically qualifies, does automatic qualification present more of a challenge because you don’t go through that work and process as a host nation, is that harder?

It is kind of more relaxed because you are not qualifying. So, you’re just trying to play matches and its more relaxed in that sense, but then as the host you have the present of being host, so a good goal would be to qualify for the next round.

Is there a World Cup moment or goal that is your favorite growing as a kid or any other moments that stick in your head?

When France won against Brazil 3-0. I remember my first moment when I was 8, I remember when Zidane was playing for the French national team in the World Cup.

Is it crazy that you remember Zidane playing as a kid and now you’re playing against his clubs, is that crazy to think about?

I got to Real Madrid when I was 11 and they were in the first team and when I got to the first team I met amazing players and people and I got the opportunity to learn from the best. Then, I had Zidane as a coach and that was amazing, I only have good memories of him.

Is Zidane one of your idols or do you have others that you look up to?

Yea, Van Nistelrooy and the players that were playing at Real Madrid when I got there like Figo and Beckham.