Russia v Finland, Euro 2020: Russian Soldier to play for the Finnish national team


Two weeks later, in the second round of Euro 2020, the Russian national team will play with Finland (June 16, St. Petersburg). The day before the head coach of the Finns Mark Kanerva decided on the final application, which, among others, included the 26-year-old center-back Robert Ivanov… By the way, look at how creatively the squad was presented on the official twitter of the Finnish national team.

You don’t need to study to be an anthroponymist to guess that Ivanov may have Russian roots. This is indeed the case. We were waiting for Roman Eremenko to return to the Finnish national team for Euro 2020, and instead of the ex-Rostov midfielder, a player with the most popular Russian surname got into the Suomi team!

Robert has an interesting fate. Several years ago, Helsingin Sanomat published an article about Ivanov. Here are excerpts from it:

Honka’s footballer Robert Ivanov bends down to show his right leg. The head of a lion is tattooed on the leg. This is in memory of the late grandfather.

“My grandfather’s name was Leo, Leo in Finnish. My father did not have time to see this lion tattoo. He died just two days after I filled it, ”says Ivanov.

And the head of a wolf is tattooed on the lower part of the foot of the footballer. She is in memory of her father. According to Ivanov, his dad was a lone wolf:

“Daddy had a lot of tattoos, but my mother didn’t like them at all. When my mother saw my tattoo, she cried. “

Ivanov does not know if he would have become a football player if not for his father. Robert was born in 1994 in Helsinki and raised in a Russian-Ingrian family. Ivanov’s mother, Nelly Pakki (ex-player of the Estonian national handball team and winner of the USSR youth championship as part of the Tallinn poultry farm team) moved to Finland in 1990 with two children and husband Rudolf. Moreover, the Pakki family became the first family to move to the country after the President of Finland, Mauno Koivisto, declared the Ingrian Finns to be repatriates.

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Robert grew up in a sports family. Nelly Pakki became the Finnish champion with Sparta, her brother and sister played basketball and handball. His father, Vladimir Ivanov, played football for the East Helsinki teams assembled from Russian players. As a child, Robert himself dabbled in handball and basketball. “Mom is unhappy that I didn’t choose handball because I was good at this sport,” Ivanov admits. But when Robert went to seventh grade, his parents divorced: “I was angry with my mother because of that.”

In February 2014, Ivanov’s grandfather died, and for the first time he heard his father cry. In June 2014, the footballer’s father passed away. In general, over the course of four years, our hero lost four loved ones: then he did not become a maternal grandfather and one of Robert’s best friends.

When Ivanov talks about his father, his eyes fill with sadness, and his speech becomes slower:

“Of course, I didn’t expect my father to leave. I don’t want to imagine how he wasted away. Dad was in rather poor physical condition due to alcohol problems. I was angry with him because he was in charge of his life. Now, remembering him, I am not angry, but just tears are coming. “

As a child, the son was afraid of dad, and when Robert reached almost two meters, the father himself was already afraid of him. “Many times I was angry with him for drinking, asked why he was doing it,” the footballer says. They helped Ivanov’s father, but the disease still took its toll.

Shortly after the family tragedy, Robert left to serve in the army in Hämeenlinna. There he did not train for six months.

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“I coped with this whole story sitting in a trench, looking at the heavens and talking to myself,” says Ivanov. – Father is one of those people thanks to whom I play at a high level. He dreamed of seeing me in Veikkauslig or higher.

At the age of 18, Ivanov’s attitude towards football changed when he moved to the third division club Myllyupuro and got to the Russian coach Ravil Sabitov:

“He said that I can become a real footballer. And I believed him. “

This is the story of the Ivanov family and how Robert became a professional footballer. The Russian coach helped the central defender make a career, and now the Russian Finn himself will play against our team at Euro 2020. It seems that Robert does not forget about his roots. At least he listens to Russian music (Timati, Basta). Moreover, the Finnish national team player chose the name Ruski Soldat for his Instagram.

The Russian Soldier is also watching our players. In his “twitter” you can find publications about Russian footballers. Ivanov admired Andrey Arshavin’s goals for his beloved London Arsenal and Alexander Golovin’s game in June 2018 for the Russian national team against Saudi Arabia at the World Cup.

So far, Ivanov has played only four matches for the national team of Suomi. For a Finnish player, he went abroad rather late – at the age of 25. And he made his debut in Veikkauslig (Finnish elite league) only at 23 years old. In the fall of 2020, Honka from Espoo sold the central defender to the Polish Warta. This season, Robert has played 24 matches for the Poznan team and made one assist. In the first rounds he did not qualify for the first round, but then quickly won a place in the starting lineup. “Warta” finished in fifth place in the championship, although just a year ago it rose from the second division.

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Perhaps in Finland someone was surprised by Ivanov’s entry into the Euro 2020 squad. For example, the former central defender of “Akhmat” Juhani Oyalu, who called “humiliation” the decision of coach Kanerva not to include him in the application. However, Robert came out at the base in the last matches of the Finns with Switzerland and Sweden. He had no doubt that he would play in Russia:

“When I found out that UEFA had increased the number of players in the squad to 26, I realized that I have a chance to get to the Euro. The Finland national team has quite old central defenders. Besides, I had a good season in the Polish championship, ”Ivanov, without undue modesty, commented for about his qualification for Euro 2020.

The first shame on the Russian national team. How our team lost to the Germans with a score of 0:16
The first shame on the Russian national team. How our team lost to the Germans with a score of 0:16

It seems that coach Kanerva prepares Robert especially for the tall and powerful Artem Dziuba, Belgian Romelu Lukaku and Danish Andreas Cornelius. After all, the Finnish national team has no other center-backs as tall as the representative of Warta. 197-centimeter Ivanov against 196-centimeter Dziuba – it will be a battle of giants! If the Russian Soldier wins the duel against the Russian captain, he will make a name for himself at least in Russia and will certainly receive offers from the RPL.

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