An unusual interview with Bakaev – about the culture of Ingushetia, fishing and Moscow taxi drivers

At the age of 10, Zelimkhan Bakaev did not surprise Lokomotiv coaches and returned to Nazran. The guy admired feints and twisted opponents with false steps, but was not ready technically: he never trained with a professional coach and himself admitted that he could not hit and pass.

The insistence of grandmother Tamusi helped: “We must go to Moscow again and fight.” Bakaev went and fought: he got into the Spartak Academy, set up shots and passes with the coach Alexei Lunin, and also learned the multiplication table (when he answered incorrectly, he was on duty). Further – the path of a real Spartak player: through the youth team, three seasons at Spartak-2 and an annual loan at Arsenal Kononov.

Now Bakaev is a dozen of Spartak and the Russian national team with pleasant personal successes.

1. 6 + 9 under Kononov / Tedesco last season Domenico was knocked out of the count: “How many points did he bring us – 15-18?” Including 2 + 2 after the transferred coronavirus, which Zelimkhan compared with falling into a pit.

2. In the new season – 1 + 3 (including the transfer-scoop on Ponce in the derby). Tedesco does not hide: “I expect more from Zelimkhan than from the others.”

3. The match with the Serbs (3: 1) Bakaev first started at the start of the national team and earned a penalty. “Fortunately, my offensive mistake was overshadowed by a wonderful victory,” wrote after the match; and Cherchesov advised the player to “reproach himself less”.

Before you is an unusual interview with Bakaev. Not only about football, but also about the cultural environment: Caucasian childhood, mountains, fishing, love for Manchester United and McDonald’s, communication with Tedesco in English and watching American football.

We will talk a lot about Ingushetia – the home republic of Zelimkhan and his younger brother Soltmurad, also a pupil of Spartak who plays for Rubin. The names of the brothers were given by their grandfather – in honor of the real heroes of the Vainakh (this is how Chechens and Ingush are generally called) epos – Zelimkhan Kharachoevsky and his brother Soltmurad.

– The word of Bagautdin’s grandfather is the most important in the Bakayevs’ teip ( teip is an ancient union of clans among the Vainakhs. – Approx. “Championship” ). Our grandfather is positive, kind, sociable, does not prohibit anything, constantly walks and rarely sits at home.

And how are things with grandmother Tamusi, who motivated me to go to Moscow again to watch?

Everything is fine. Grandma Tamusi (like the second Farizet) could have rest, but she is so active and accustomed to work that she cannot live without her, and no matter how hard I try, no matter how I say that they will have everything, she answers “no”. But conversations with them are usually heartbreaking: “Football is so dangerous, take care of yourself.”

To Spartak training sessions – by bike. Salary card – from parents

Bakaev lives in Moscow with his parents, wife and younger brother Magomed (he is 18 years old, does not play football) in a rented apartment. On the wall in Zelimkhan’s room is the flag of Ingushetia. On the day of the interview, my wife baked pies with cabbage, and my mother made pickle.

I don’t even know what they won’t be able to cook, – Zelimkhan smiles. – I love everything simple and homemade: khachapuri, borscht.

It takes eight minutes to get from my house to the stadium. Recently I called a taxi, went down, but there was no car: it was standing on the map and did not move. There were 10 minutes left before the training camp, I did not understand what to do: maybe run? Then I remembered that I have a high-speed bike: I recently bought it and have never ridden. I got there in six minutes, and I liked it so much that I went again: I put it at the entrance to the stadium and went to train. The guys from the team looked at the bike and said: “Baka, well done.” It’s cold now, I returned to the taxi.

Do you only travel around town by taxi?

Mostly yes. Taxi drivers find out, ask about football, we talk, it’s ugly to refuse. Once I was driving to the airport for the collection of “Spartak-2”, chatting, when suddenly the hood rose sharply and broke the windshield. I didn’t come off, so we got there – though more slowly, ha-ha. But I’m already thinking about a car with a driver: firstly, it’s not so financially profitable for the whole family to take a taxi, and secondly, you have to wait for the car. And so an individual person will carry the whole family.

Do your parents still have your bank card?

I have two cards. The salary is with the parents, I control it through the phone, I see that they are paying. I use the second one. If they buy something expensive, my mother calls: “Don’t be afraid, it’s us.” People still ask: “Can we buy this thing?” – “This is your money, buy what you want.” We do not have “yours” and “mine” – everything is in common.

What does your typical day look like?

I wake up at exactly nine in the morning, wash my face, reach the stadium in 10 minutes and have breakfast. Even before 9:30 am, you need to inform the doctor that everything is normal with your health: write to WhatsApp or go to the office. Further – training, additional classes with a trainer and lunch. We can sit in a restaurant with the boys – Jikia there or Mirzov. Then go home. And that’s all – I’m resting, in the evening I study English using the “zoom”. Previously, the language was difficult, but I found a person who explains clearly. I understand speech and text, but I don’t speak it myself yet.

What can you say to Tedesco besides “okay”?

See you tomorrow ( “See you tomorrow”. – Approx. “Championship” ), ha-ha. Basically, he himself finds out how parents are, he can come up and ask in Russian: “How are you? Very well?”. And his every speech before the match is special. There will definitely be an emotional “come on” at the end.

I also advised Tedesco a place for fishing in New Riga: what I liked and, if anything, I can book him.

Is fishing a new hobby?

Yeah. I went with friends for the first time after last season, then with my parents. I caught four fish on spinning – including one huge sturgeon 15 kg! If anything, there is a different fish in the photo, do not mix it up, haha. Fishing relieves me, frees my head from football: after all, Spartak is a thrill and a lot of pressure at the same time.

Among other hobbies – I started watching American football. I saw that Patrick Mahomes became the highest paid athlete on the planet ( will earn $ 503 million in 10 years. – Approx. “Championship” ). “What is it like this?” – I thought, I watched the match of his team “Kansas City Chiefs”, and I liked it! A very bright and emotional sport. I will watch more.

Life in Ingushetia: hide and seek in the trees, a trip to the mountains on a Prior

Bakaev started on a makeshift field in Nazran: with his father Dzhabrail and brother Soltmurad, they set up wooden poles, ran over bumps and hit the goal without a crossbar. Zelimkhan believes that the unevenness of the pitch helped him with dribbling and a refined sense of the ball: “When you can tame it in your garden, you can do it ten times easier on a flat lawn.”

The field where we trained is still next to our house, but for some reason it is moving. I don’t know why, haha, but it’s in one place and then in another.

I have never practiced feints there. My father and I practiced ball control, dodged the chips, made deceptive movements: I showed that I was going to one place, but ran away to another. So, on a short stretch of the field, I learned to turn my opponents around. On the courage, of course, he could have made a feint of Zidane, but accentuated – no. It’s not practical.

Tell us about your hometown.

I won’t say that there are no infrastructure problems in Nazran. But people are kind, any stranger will come and help in difficult times. My favorite place in the city is the football field next to the house, where I train during my vacation, but to walk and go somewhere is necessary in the capital of the republic Magas. By the way, the youngest capital of Russia ( the city is 20 years old. – Approx. “Championship” ). In the “House of Celebrations”, where weddings and celebrations take place, there is a teahouse – there we usually sit in booths with friends, take tea and the national dish chepalgash – such khachapuri on a very thin dough. Give it a try!

Mountains! Drive in the “Towers of Ingushetia” – and you will understand everything. I can say anything, but live it is indescribable! A year and a half ago, we went with friends to the mountains (by the way, on the Prior): a river flows, in a gazebo with a barbecue – a table, on the table – barbecue, chocolates, bread, tea; we joke and can laugh so hard that then our head hurts. I can’t joke, I listen more and have fun.

Tell us about life in Ingushetia and childhood friends.

When you spend your whole life with a person on the same street, you become very close, so we with the neighboring boys call each other brothers. As a child, we often played hide and seek: in the summer I climbed a tree, because of the thick crown they did not see me. Now neighbor Akraman is the head of security in the sports complex, Musa is dancing national dances in the ensemble, among us there is a doctor, toastmaster and a news presenter.

What kind of dances? Such wi-wai?

Haha, that’s it!

And so all childhood is associated with football, except for him, I don’t remember anything. No bike, no roller skates, just football. Not because they could not afford (everyone in the family worked), but because they could not be distracted.

In a video interview on Spartak’s YouTube, I saw that you let the presenter pass first, because he is older than you.

Religious education in Ingushetia has been going on since childhood: it is not taught, you just see how parents communicate with grandparents, that you cannot sit down with your father, that a man cannot hold and caress his child in front of other people … Many customs are described in the book “From the Dark Ages” by my fellow countryman Idris Bazorkin.

And I skipped the presenter, because the elder must go first. If you see an adult 500 meters away, then you must stop until he passes. Of course, this rule is hard to maintain in Moscow, but in the subway or public transport I will never pass before the elder one, I will not sit down if he is standing. Seniors should not be standing!

Let’s go back to the past. You are 11 years old, they took you to Spartak, you are alone in Moscow. Where did you go?

I didn’t go anywhere, and sometimes I trained four times a day and lived according to the schedule: getting up in seven – 45 minutes practicing strikes against the wall of a wooden box – school – athletics in Sokolniki – training at the Spartak academy “- again a box and a game with the boys. As a child, I worked on speed, and from 12 to 18 years old I went to the track and field coach at the Znamensky brothers’ stadium in Sokolniki. So he said: “I want to run faster.”

During the lessons I trembled: as soon as they are over and I would go to train. I joined my studies in the last six months of grade 11, when the Unified State Exam was frightening me: if I fail, they will be kicked out of Spartak. I passed Russian, mathematics, biology and, just in case, society. Believe it or not, you wrote it yourself. The scores are not particularly high (I don’t remember exactly), but they were enough with a margin. Social studies wrote his best – 60 points. I even argued with the teacher: “There is no chance” – “And I will hand over!”.

What do you remember from Moscow in the 2000s?

I remember the day of the Champions League final in 2008: I went to Red Square in the morning, saw the cup itself and won the ball signed by a Liverpool player (I can’t remember the name, I didn’t know that) – they clapped me the hardest when I was juggling the ball.

I was madly in love with Manchester United (primarily because of Ronaldo), I watched all their matches, so in the evening in front of the TV I was so nervous that I didn’t even remember what I ate, and screamed after a miss Cristiano from the penalty spot: “How so?” After the victory, I jumped so much with happiness that words cannot describe it. High!

Now I watch not only United, but any football that I get into. Of the players, I single out De Bruyne from City. Few people do not like his game: he plays so subtly and sees the field.

Let’s go back to Moscow.

I also remember how my mother and I went to McDonald’s – then still “wow!” I took a huge burger.

During the week I lived in a Spartak boarding school, and on the weekend I went to visit relatives on my grandmother’s side in Tushino (which is symbolic). They gave me 400 rubles for a week: at first, the guys and I spent all the money at McDonald’s (I loved country-style potatoes in sweet and sour), came to the boarding school and survived as best we could. Later, they realized that it didn’t work: we went to the store, bought something, and anyway, on the first day, they dared to do it. What can you buy for 400 rubles? Chips, croutons.

“Three crusts”? With jellied meat and horseradish?

Yes, yes, yes, only I took with the taste of tomato and greens, with the meaty taste I did not eat: in principle, there is no meat in them, but still.

Here Zelimkhan hints that he eats only halal – that is, in accordance with the rules of the Koran. By the way, in Spartak – thanks to Dr. Mikhail Butovsky (he worked in the main team from the summer of 2019 to August 2020) – halal meat has been introduced into the menu for Muslim players .

A small football part: the thrill of the top ten, dreams of a home on an airplane flight

I’ve played on the flank all my life, and now I enjoy the new position of the top ten: I can run right, left, and center. But the position is also harder: there are more people in the center, they play against you personally.

I remember playing with Tula, I am out of the ball, but Kostadinov is running after me everywhere, pulling at the T-shirt. “What are you doing? Leave me alone “-” I can’t, this is the job. ” We laughed because we used to play together.

It’s always interesting how football players live. What are you doing on the plane?

I don’t open my tablet or phone, but I relax and dream about falling asleep at home as soon as possible. I look out the window and think: “I would like to go home as soon as possible.”

The last question. What is your dream?

Become one of the best soccer players in the world. I will strive!

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