Slovakia’s winger Vladimir Weiss talks Euro-2016, his
dad and life in Qatar.
— Slovakia is in the group with Russia, England and
Wales. What do you think about your opponents in the upcoming Euro competition?
— We are going to fight in the Euro-2016. Don’t think
that we are going to be a team that qualifies and just going to be happy. I
think once there we are going to try our best to get out from the group and
reach the finals. We did it in Africa, we had a very difficult group with Italy
and Paraguay and we knocked the World champions out, which was something
amazing. We will be playing Wales first, then Russia, then the last game is
against England. Obviously, we know if we want to get through we will need to get
some points from the first two games. England is one of the favorites so it’s
going to be difficult. But I don’t think any game is going to be easy at this
stage. So we will see. We will take it from game to game and hopefully we will
be happy at the end.
— How are you feeling about your national team right
now? Would you say is it a strong team?
— Yes, I think that the advantage we have is that a
group of players have been together for a long time. When my dad was the
manager and we qualified for the World cup in Africa he has made kind of a
young team that’s been playing since then. Then we didn’t have such good times
but the new coach Jan Kozak came and he
got us together again. Now we have a great team spirit in the squat and I think
it’s a very strong advantage to be played in the World cup and Euros. I think
it’s our biggest advantage now.
— You were FC Lekhwiya’s player when Zenit came to
Qatar for the winter camp this year. What did you think about the team?
— Well, we played a friendly game… They’ve been in a
preparation for the Champions league. We lost 2-1 … It’s hard to talk about Russian Zenit players. Tomas
Hubocan has more experience, he is playing in Russia and I am sure he is going
to share the knowledge with the players in the national team.
— Were you surprised that Zenit didn’t get through the
next stage of the Champions League?
— I think Zenit was really close. I watched the game. When Zenit scored I was
sure that they were going to get one more. I think they’ve been unlucky. I
thought they will go further but it’s football…
— In 2011 Russia’s player Roman Shirokov made a
comment about your national team, saying that Slovakia is not a big deal and
not a tough opponent, using term a “collective farm”. Do you pay attention to
comments like that?
— Actually it’s the first time I heard this. But I
don’t think anybody cares. I’ve heard comments from Czech people talking about
us as well. I don’t really pay too much attention to comments like this.
Obviously we are a strong team. We qualified for the
World cup 4 years ago, we qualified for the Euros now, and we’ve beat the
Spanish national team at home. We have a result. We are a small country but I
think that any team will not have an easy game against us.
— Your dad has a pre-disposition to Russia, he even
worked as a coach for Saturn Moscow. Were you ever close to moving to Russia
— There has been an interest. A few agents were
ringing me about an interest from Russia. I don’t think that I’ve ever received
a direct offer though. Once I was very close to signing for Dynamo Kiev, I was
19 or 20 back then but that didn’t happen. Actually I even had a medical done
and everything, but it didn’t happen because the contract wasn’t written
properly, so from Kiev we flew back to Manchester and then after a few days
there was an offer from Epanyol on loan. I’ve made a choice to join Espanyol
for a season but there has always been talk about me going to Russia…. Once an
agent called my dad about an interest, but as I said a direct offer was never
made to me. Nobody from Russian clubs rang me. There has always been agents and
people calling me about interest from different clubs but you know I have my
agent, and if something happens it should be my agent who knows first.
— Your dad is very close to Russia and he knows the
Russian Premier League very well. Do you have the same knowlage?
— My dad speaks Russian because he learned it in
school. I don’t speak Russian at all. I could understand some words though. I
think one of my dad’s dreams was to be a coach in Russia and it’s happened
after he had a big success with FC Artmedia in the Champions league, then he
joined Saturn Moscow. As you know after
he was a manager of Slovakia’s national team before moving to Kairat. I think
his dream is to come back to Russia one day and be a coach in Russia. I know
him very well and he is a coach that works very hard.
I think that every player knows that the Russian
league is growing from season to season. There’ve been big names signing in
Russia. Zenit is doing well in the Champions league every year. I think Russia
has football clubs that are as good as top clubs in Europe. If there was an
offer before for me to join Russia and it would have been true, I would definitely
have thought about it at earlier stage of my career. But now I am happy where I
am and I am thinking about Gharafa now and about the Euro championship coming
— Is there any particular team you are a fan of?
— I think that everybody knows that I have passion for
FC Rangers. I think I had a very good connection with the fans over there. I
had a great season, won the cup and the league. So I have great memories from
them. Many fans are following me since then on Twitter. They are still telling
me to come back. I promised that maybe one day I would do so.
— Do you follow them now?
— Yes of course I ‘ve been following them. I know that
they had a very difficult few years. Now they are leading in the second division
and they will play the Scottish premier league next year. It’s going to be
— Your Granddad and Dad’s name is also Vladimir Weiss.
You have an adorable daughter Victoria and son Michal. Were you ever tempted to
name your son Vladimir as well?
— Well, not really.
This name has being going on in our family but I am trying not to pay
much attention to it. I don’t feel pressured by my Dad or Granddad. It’s best
we have Michal in our family than another Vladimir.
— You were born in a football family. Your granddad
and dad are also well-known football players and specialists. Have you ever
thought to change this route and become for an ice hockey player for example?
— Actually, I played ice hockey for 3 years when I was
younger! Probably if I wasn’t a football player I would play ice hockey for
sure. But as you said, I am from a football family and I think strong about my
decision to dedicate myself to football.
— Not many people in the world know about Qatar Stars
League. What is it like to play in this championship? Does it help you to grow
— Well, if I say that the standard over here is the
same as in Europe - I don’t think that
anybody would believe me. I can’t say it’s the same because it’s not. But I think the standard is better than
people think. Some people think that the
league in Qatar is very weak and players only come here in the end of their career.
But there is a lot of young talent here from Qatar or from abroad, so I don’t
think that the standard of the league is so low. You have very good individuals and very
strong games that can be played over here. I think that the one thing that’s
missing is people at the stadium. I think if more people come to the games the
standard will be even better, but you know when you come here your kind of
getting used to empty stadiums…
— Since you’ve been
in Doha you changed clubs. First you played for Lekhwiya, now you are
with Al Gharafa. Do you feel like you made the right decision?
— Yeah. Well, I think it was a little bit an
unexpected step for me because before I came to Qatar I would never have
thought I will play in Qatar in my life and then changing clubs in Qatar was
totally a surprise for me… but it’s happened. There was an offer from Al
Gharafa football club that I have excepted and I think since I’ve been here
I’ve really enjoyed myself. I am happy and I am proud that I made this step
— You have been living in Qatar over two years now. Do
you enjoy your life away from Europe?
— Oh yeah. Everybody who has been here knows that the
life here is perfect. I came here 2 years ago. It’s my third year. Obviously, I
am enjoying it because I haven’t moved since then. I am happy and I am enjoying
— Do you think Qatar is capable of hosting a good
— I don’t think it’s possible to play in the heat. As
you know, the stadiums will be air-conditioned so it’s not going to be a
problem for the players but for the fans coming here and being here for that
period- June to July - I don’t think
it’s possible. But I’ve heard that it was agreed that the World Cup would
happen in the winter. It will be the perfect weather for the fans and for the
players… I think wintertime will be ideal.
— Do you think Qatar has something to offer tourists
and fans coming from abroad to watch the games?
— There are a lot of things being build over here.
First of all, 8 stadiums are being built at the moment. I’ve seen a
presentation of the World Cup – it’s going to be something totally different
than it is in Europe. I think the stadiums are very modern, contemporary. So
it’s going to be something new for everybody. I think that the one thing that’s
good about this World cup is that the stadiums are not going to be far from
each other; so all the fans could catch a lot of games, which is a big
advantage. Qataris’ are working very hard to make the Wold cup as best as it
can be and I am sure that with all the money that’s been invested its going to
be an amazing tournament.