Regrets ? I’ve had a few, confesses Andrei Kanchelskis in a no-holds barred autobiography reviewed by ERIC BROWN.
The ball scuds inside a fullback, a blur cuts in from the right and crashes it with venomous power past an apprehensive goalkeeper. That’s how fans of Manchester United, Everton and Glasgow Rangers remember Russian express Andrei Kanchelskis.
Most players would give gold-plated shinpads for the treble honours he won at Old Trafford and Ibrox yet in his autobiography Kanchelskis confesses to serious regrets over a career he regards as unfulfilled.
Despite picking up enough medals to cover Desperate Dan’s chest Kanchelskis admits he left Old Trafford too soon and his international career was a disaster.
Kanchelskis lit up an already glittering United cast including Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson, Paul Scholes, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona.
He believes they would have won a third successive League championship but for Cantona’s kung-fu kick on a spectator at Crystal Palace and subsequent long ban.
Eventually his United spell turned sour when a club doctor failed to diagnose his double hernia and he was accused of trying to avoid training. After inevitable surgery Kanchelskis told United chiefs including manager Alex Ferguson he wanted to leave.
Ferguson apologised for failing to realise the seriousness of his injury but Kanchelskis stuck to his guns at a summit meeting on his future. The player was soon on his way to Goodison Park where he says he produced the best football of his career in an 18-month spell under Joe Royle.
Ukraine-born Kanchelskis opted to play for Russia but never appeared in a World Cup due to injuries, political fallout from disintegration of the Soviet Union – and his own stubbornness. He joined rebels refusing to represent Russia in the 1994 world cup finals who were disillusioned with poor preparation and management.
Rangers players rejected visit to a top Malaga restaurant because they wanted to visit MacDonald’s
Rumours of Mafia involvement in his career in Russia and Italy – where he played for Fiorentina – are discussed by Kanchelskis in a fascinating career tale where he pulls no punches about fellow professionals.
He reveals one United’s stars liking for a swig of brandy before taking to the pitch, labels a Celtic player “the Grasshopper” for his habit of jumping out of tackles and admits bewilderment when Rangers players rejected his offer to take them to a top Malaga restaurant because they wanted to visit MacDonald’s.
Steve Howey didn’t even get that far. When Kanchelskis visited his hotel room to ask if Howey wanted to come for a meal he found the defender surrounded by beer cans. “There’s my breakfast” said Howey indicating one can. “There’s my lunch” he said pointing to another. “And there’s my dinner” he added picking up a third.
Russian Winters by Andrei Kanchelskis is published by deCoubertin Books. Price £20.
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