Former FIFA World Cup™ winners Andreas Brehme and Iker Casillas were joined by ex-Russia international Valeri Karpin, as they visited Moscow State University on Monday 11 June. The three players were attending a FIFA Legends Fan Interaction event organised by members of the Fan Movement, and took questions from a group of students.
Presiding over the scene was the glittering World Cup Trophy, which provided the focal point for many a selfie and photo.
Receiving a very warm welcome from the football-loving students, the players were welcomed on to the stage by Victor Sadovnichy, the president of Moscow State University, who reminded those present that the seat of learning has very strong ties with the world of sport. “Hundreds of great sportspeople, including Olympic, world and European champions, have studied here,” he told those gathered.
A member of the Russia team that appeared at USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002, Karpin broke the ice by naming his favourites to win this year's world title: “Russia! You don’t believe me? Then that’s your problem,” he said with a wink. “There are other teams in with a chance too, like Germany, Spain and Brazil.”
Adding England to that list, Brehme said: “They have a very good squad and coach.” The German said Argentina were also in with a good chance.
Answering questions from the floor, the three players spoke about their superstitions and childhood heroes, and gave some advice to their young audience, who also had the chance to see footage of the players in action on the World Cup stage. Highlights included Brehme’s winner in the Final of Italy 1990, Karpin scoring Russia’s first-ever world finals goal, and, as you might have guessed, Casillas's wonder save from Arjen Robben in the South Africa 2010 Final.
“When I watch it again, I still can’t believe Robben didn’t score,” said the goalkeeper, who captained Spain to glory at that tournament. “I’m saying that because of me. He looked certain to score, but he didn’t. I played with Robben for two seasons at Real Madrid. He’s a great friend and a great player and I knew him well.
“I was falling to my left side when he had that chance because I thought he was going to take the ball around me, because he’s very fast. Out of instinct, I just tried to stay on my feet for as long as I could, and I stuck my right boot out. You’d expect him to put that chance away nine times out of ten, but the luck was with Spain that day, and I managed to knock the ball away.”
Casillas said he is planning to carry on playing until he is 40, mainly because he is more “stubborn” than Gianluigi Buffon. For his part, Karpin told the youngsters to work hard and to never give up on their dreams, while Brehme stressed the importance of studying, education and languages. That message was reinforced by the university’s president, who said he hoped the students would enjoy the World Cup, while continuing to study for their exams.
The event came to an end with a raffle, with the lucky winner stepping up to the stage to collect an adidas Telstar ball signed by the three world-famous football stars.
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