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Vladimir Weiss: Any team will not have an easy game against us Slovakia’s winger Vladimir Weiss talks Euro-2016, his dad and life in Qatar

Владимир Вайсс
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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 yourself?
— 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 up.

— 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 interesting.

— 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 professionally?

— 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 now.

— 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 myself.

— Do you think Qatar is capable of hosting a good World Cup?
— 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.

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