Mijo Caktaš: ''There has been more discipline under Berdyev''

Mijo Caktaš: ''There has been more discipline under Berdyev'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

Croatian half back Mijo Caktaš has been playing at Rubin for three years. The football player and his family have not accustomed to Russian winter during this time, but Mijo is already able to give an interview in Russian. During the talk to Realnoe Vremya's reporter, he answered not only questions of the sports staff but also followers of popular communities on Vk.com. They talked about the new and previous head coaches of the Kazan club, the difference between Russian and Croatian football and also why there are not Russian players among modern-time European football stars.

''I like a dictionary more''

How did you manage to learn Russian so that you already can give an interview in it?

I will say this way: the majority of players start to communicate via translator when they come to another country, I like a dictionary more (laughing). Actually, there is nothing special – I tried to talk to Russian players from the first days, watch local TV. Where there's a will there's a way.

Question from Aleksandr Sabitov: ''Mijo, could you tell about your hobbies? Do you like Kazan?''

In Croatia, I like to play big tennis very much. Not like a professional, of course, but still. People say Kazan also has places with open-air courts. But you have more bad weather during the football season, that's to say I haven't tried here. In general, Kazan is an excellent city. It is comfortable, cosy. I also like people – they are calm, in general. When you drive on a road in Croatia, people shout at you every minute: ''Hey, come here! Where are you going?'' and so on.

The majority of players start to communicate via translator when they come to another country, I like a dictionary

Question from Gleb Shtat: ''Is it difficult to fight to be in the first team under Berdyev?''

It is not easy, certainly. He doesn't have mercy on anyone. You can be the best player of a match. But if your teammate in your position works better at training, he will play. Our team has a good choice of great performers in my position. This is why it is not easy to fight for the first team, of course. But I am not going to give up, I think big. Now everyone in the team has a chance. Everything depends on how you give your best.

''Gracia's tiki-taka did not work in Russia''

There were big expectations of Rubin in the last season. Why did not Gracia succeed?

I think that Spanish methods of Gracia, all this tiki-taka don't suit Russia. Football here is more vertical, very many head-to-head fights and violence, in general. Fields in many cities don't correspond to the Spanish vision of football again. Berdyev is in a serious mood. There has been more discipline in the team with his arrival – all the thoughts are about football only. Training process has also changed. We pay a lot of attention to tactics, theory. People who appear on the pitch already know every manoeuvre that Berdyev expects from them at a certain moment of a match. It is a serious approach. We will need to improve many things. But it is seen the team is uniting and moving in a correct direction.

This is why Alex Song came to his senses? Because he is playing in a different way.

Of course. Other requirements – another game. Not only Song has improved. I think we all became better – somebody is more, somebody is less.

Berdyev is in a serious mood. There has been more discipline in the team with his arrival – all the thoughts are about football only

You joined Rubin aged 23 considered as one of the most talented players of Croatia. Now you are already 25 and not young and prospective any more, so to speak. Has not your career stopped?

It is football. Of course, I would like to play more, of course. But competition for a seat in the team has never done harm to anybody. I don't think I lost two years in Kazan. On the contrary, I have grown a lot as a player. In Croatia, I existed in ivory towers, so to speak. And the Russian championship is one of the strongest in Europe. And nobody promised me an easy life after the Croatian championship. If fate favours some of the players, his career develops rapidly. The others will have to work and don't complain about the fortune and other factors that you can't influence anyway.

''I don't regret coming to Rubin''

Question from Aleksandr, which is appropriate, so to speak: ''Many experts compare you with Luka Modrić. Do you like this comparison?'' By the way, Luka's career did not go up in the beginning.

Undoubtedly, now he is the No. 1 football player in Croatia. Comparisons with me are inappropriate here. Moreover, because we play in the same position. He is a player without weak sides. As for career growth, what's the sense of speaking about it now? We all know what Modrić has achieved.

When you were going to join Rubin, Stuttgart was a candidate to get you. The German club was close to outsiders. But, anyway, it is Bundesliga. Why did you choose Kazan?

The fact that they were close to the bottom of the standing did not play any role. I just wanted certainty, and Rubin quickly and clearly made an offer on the conditions I accepted. The business-like talk at Stuttgart was constantly postponed. For instance, when I signed a contract with Rubin, I was offered to wait another two weeks. I felt that Kazan was interested in me, it became the decisive argument. I don't regret, certainly.

Undoubtedly, now Modrić is the No. 1 football player in Croatia. Comparisons with me are inappropriate here. Moreover, because we play in the same position. Photo: football.ua

Aynur Khabibullin asks what country and club you would like to play in if you don't extend the contract with Rubin.

I like Bayern from Munich very much. Bundesliga, German football and Bayern's style is a dream. In general, I am ready to play in any European championship including Russian.

Question from Nail Faridovich: ''How did you start playing football?''

There is no special intrigue here. For instance, Croatia doesn't have hockey like you. Football is our No. 1 sport. All my friends played football. And I asked my dad to send me to sports classes. It is how it began.

Do you like hockey? Many people complain that they don't see the puck.

Indeed, it is not seen on TV. But everything is seen well when you visit a hockey match like I did with my friends in Kazan. Hockey is a spectacular, combat sport. Anyway, football is out of competition, personally for me.

Question from Danil Ziganshin: ''Whom do you consider the best football player of Croatia in history?''

It is a difficult question. We had many great players. I will name Modrić among modern and Zvonimir Boban among previous players, he is a real master of standards, and forward Davor Šuke. Real Madrid became the summit of Davor Šuke's club career where he scored a lot. But everyone remembers the national team of Croatia in the 1998 World Cup where Šuke became the best forward of the competition having scored six goals. And the squad reached the semi-final.

''Bilić also wondered why Russia did not have football stars''

Why does such a small country as Croatia generate so many world football stars while Russia has no one?

It is difficult to say. Maybe because football competes with hockey? I find it difficult to judge. But we really had many football stars of European level. Croatian players can be found almost in any European championship. And we do not have the least important roles. Slaven Bilić, who was a coach at Lokomotiv, told me once that it was a mystery to him why such a huge country had so few good football players. As he doesn't know, what do you want from me?

But our 20-year-old player who played five matches in the Russian Football Premier League well can expect a salary of €1 million. What about Croatia?

It is impossible. Our players try to reach Europe to earn such money by all means. What you are saying is not normal, of course. But if I had such a salary when I was 20, I could not think about football only. I would just give up this business.

Maybe for this reason Russians can't become European football stars?

It is quite possible, by the way. I can say we have found the truth (laughing).

Slaven Bilić, who was a coach at Lokomotiv told me once that it was a mystery to him why such a huge country had so few good football players. As he doesn't know, what do you want from me?

What was the most surprising thing in Russian football?

Result is the most important thing for you. In other words, nobody cares about the quality of football, the score on the scoreboard is the most important thing. The majority of teams in the league plays according to this principle. There is a lot of fight including tactical. The clubs seriously bet on standards. Europe doesn't have such a slant, the quality of football for club officials is no less important than the result.

By Artur Khalillulov