Today, on April 3, the Donbass Arena conference room saw an unusual event.
The journalists did not ask pointed questions at a press conference. There was no Mircea Lucescu. The room was occupied by children! More than a hundred members of the “Orange Shoelaces” club communicated with the Pitmen’s goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, meeting him with a standing ovation.
- Hello everyone! – Andriy Pyatov greeted the audience. - I am very pleased to be here. I love children, as I am a father myself. I also see parents here. Therefore, all are welcome, and please ask me questions.
Well, then, as usual, the sea of children’s hands and smiles followed. The kids’ additional impetus to ask questions lied in the fact that the author of the best question would receive a beautiful scarf with the Shakhtar logo.
- What was your best game in 2011?
- Probably, the game against Roma. This match allowed us to make it to the Champions League quarter-finals.
- Who introduced you to football?
- When I was in first grade, I did many sports. A friend of mine once told me: "Let’s do football." I agreed. I liked it, because I, like any other kid, played street football. After making that choice, I had only two sports left: football and martial arts. (Laughing.)
- What other sports did you do?
- Volleyball, swimming. Were it not for football, maybe I would be a candidate for Master of Sport. Martial arts, table tennis ... I did whatever I could!
- Who said that you had a football talent?
- My first coach. When I started doing football my coach was Oleksandr Funderat, who works now at Shakhtar-3. He trained players, who were born in 1983/84. Then, he coached only those born in 1983. Vadim Bondar became my new coach. He saw talent in me.
- Do you still keep in touch with your first coach?
- We have a very good relationship. I met him during the Youth Coaches Congress, which has been recently held in Donetsk.
- When did you start playing football?
- At eight. Professionally, I started playing in 2001.
- What superstitious beliefs do you have before taking to the stage?
- (Laughing.) I do not know, I'm not a singer. And if we are talking about the football pitch, it is hard to say about everyone. I am not into that. You should watch Adriano to see how he enters the field, jumping on one leg. You have to see it!
- How did you professional career start?
- I played for the amateur team, which reached the finals of the local competition. Then, I was approached by a Vorskla representative, who proposed me to join his club. I went to Poltava and without any doubts signed my first professional contract.
- Andriy, will you play for the Ukraine national team at Euro?
- Well, first of all, I have to be one of those whom the coach wants to see in the squad. And secondly, the decision will be made by the team’s goalkeeper coach Romenskyy and Oleg Blokhin.
- Can Messi score a goal against you?
- He has already scored! (Laughs.)
Besides the boys, the girls were also actively taking part in today’s conversation, with questions ranging from “What city can boast the most beautiful girls?” to “When did you win your first USSR Cup?”
- Did you dream of becoming a famous footballer when you were a child?
- I dreamed, but, frankly, did not believe in it. (Laughing.) I was a little boy; it was hard to believe that I would be playing at such level. I watched Shovkovskyy on TV, playing for the national team, and thought it was an unrealistic level! But after a while I would train with him together in the same team. So, dreams come true.
- Do you remember your first missed goal? And who was to blame - you or the defender?
- (Laughing.) I remember the first goal in the Premier League. As far as I remember, we were playing against Metalurh Mariupol. The game was played in Poltava, and ended 1-1. I missed a goal from the penalty spot. It was a pity to concede a penalty in the dying minutes of the game.
- What would you become if you were not a footballer?
- Sometimes I was thinking about it, but could not find the answer. In Kirovograd it is not so easy to find a job ... Maybe I would be a driver. As for sport, I could have been a swimmer.
- How many goals have you missed?
- I think, 100. I mean the goals conceded in the Premier League. I do not know, it was written in a pre-match press kit that I conceded 100 goals. (Laughing.)
- What is your favourite match?
- Oh, every match. Our previous game was also my favourite match. (Laughing.) The same applies to my former team’s games. Each game is a holiday. I do not divide them into important and unimportant ones.
In general, the kids raised massive array of topics. Andriy advised the young players to not think about victories only. They should think more about the game; how to improve their skills. Andriy Pyatov also told that he spends all his free time with his daughters, informed the children about the duration of training sessions, cuts and bruises and much more ...
Not so long ago, Andriy and his family went to a hockey match for the very first time. He lauded the Donetsk hockey team Donbass, told about his impressions and noted that he plans to continue attending their games regularly.
The communication lasted more than an hour. Someone even presented Andriy with his picture at full-length. Well, the hero of the day, in turn, took part in photograph and autograph sessions. The event ended with twitter, laughter and children’s races in the conference room.
The pupil of the third grade Bogdan Protsko became the happy owner of the Shakhtar scarf for his question regarding Andriy’s most important future expectations.
- I really liked it here, - said Bogdan. – I came here together with my teacher and class-mates. I always play football. I want to thank Andriy for the Shakhtar scarf.
In the wake of today’s event, Andriy Pyatov answered the journalists’ questions.
- Andriy, what can you say about your physical condition?
- I am not one hundred percent fit yet, but I feel well. Do not worry; everything will be fine, thank you.
- Has Dynamo changed, compared to the last year?
- I do not discuss it. You’d better ask the coach. What I see is that their game under Semin is different to that they had under Gazzaev.
- What is your personal opinion?
- The football pitch will tell. Every game is different.
- Have you paid attention to how Aliev takes free-kicks?
- Of course, he is known for his shots. We trained together in the national team, so I know his strengths.
- Can you explain why keepers cannot catch the ball after his strikes?
- I remember Mikhailov explained that this is due to the structure of Aliev’s foot. He probably knows what he is saying. I fully agree with him.
- How difficult will the game against Dynamo be from a psychological point of view?
- Every game against Dynamo is a battle, the same will happen in the next game. But psychologically, we are confident that the coach will prepare us in the best possible way. We perfectly understand that Dynamo is our main competitor.
- Will the upcoming game become a title decider?
- No. But we need to win. We're playing at home, and we have nowhere to retreat. After this match the team will still have four games left.
- What do you think about the statements made by Garmash and Ninkovic about Shakhtar?
- I do not pay attention to it. My opinion is that we must play rather than talk.
- You must be aware of what happened to Dikan.
- Yes, I phoned me. I supported him. He is in the hospital. He said that he had two broken bones. Now it is too early for him to leave the hospital. He is still under observation. I know that Andriy is a fighter, and I hope everything will be fine, and he will be able to take part in the European Championships.
- Do you hope that he will be able to play at Euro?
- As a friend, I want it and I wish him that. Everything will depend on his physical condition.
- What is the difference between children's questions and that of journalists?
- The difference lies in sincerity. Children say what they think. The journalists are professionals who know how to ask a particular question. Children always tell the truth. But journalists can sometimes lie! (Laughing.) I like children a lot, as I am a father myself. It is very interesting to spend time with them.
- What question proved to be the most striking?
- Every question! They are real. When I was a kid I didn’t have an opportunity to ask a footballer a question. At such an early age, children have a good chance to learn something from players.
- Are your daughters members of the “Orange Shoelaces” club?
- No, but I think it’s time for my eldest daughter to join this club, as she will become a first-grader in September. Through this initiative, the club gives children the opportunity to become better acquainted with the players. This is something other teams were and are lacking.
Today, on April 3, the Donbass Arena conference room saw an unusual event.