Razvan Rat: I am missing Donetsk

In an interview to HotSport.ua, the former defender of Shakhtar Donetsk and the captain of the national team of Romania shared his expectations of the upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers; he also spoke about his first impressions at West Ham and shared his take on the outcome of the Champions League draw.

About competing against Hungary and Turkey
- Of course, at this stage, the group’s top spot issue has already been resolved. Now, the three teams are fighting for the second spot. A lot will depend on the matches with Hungary and Turkey. Now all our thoughts are about the first encounter. Our nearest rivals currently sit the second spot, being one point ahead of us. Only a win will be fine for us. We need to win, to get past the major rival in the standings and then, in the fight for the knockout stage berth, everything will depend on us only.
On the atmosphere in the national team
- The hype before the games against Hungary and Turkey is incredible. Of course, we feel the support of the fans, the whole country is united by one goal. All tickets for the match against Hungary were sold out well in advance. There will be a full house. We will be securely backed by the fifty-five thousand fans at the  National stadium.
On the first impressions of London
- Basically , everything is just as I expected it to be. I'm fine here in England. Adaptation is painless. In everyday terms, there are absolutely no problems. We live on the outskirts of London. A very nice place. You could even say that we live in the woods! Nature, fresh air and no fuss. Not far from the stadium. It takes me about fifteen to twenty minutes by car to reach Upton Park. Currently, I am getting used to the left-hand drive.

About the new friends
- Basically, West Ham is a very friendly team. All the guys were originally open and they helped me in every way to safely pass the adaption period. Of course, my knowledge of the English language helped me to quickly blend in with the team. A foreigner always finds getting used to life in a new country easier if he or she speaks the language of the local people. I already speak five languages​​: Russian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and, of course, the Romanian language. Basically, I have a good relationship with all the guys. But I communicate more with the team captain Kevin Nolan. Also, I have developed a friendly relationship with Joe Cole. He and I shared a room during the pre-season training camp.
About Fernandinho and Willian
- I do not know their phone numbers in England yet. I know that Fernandinho plays for Manchester City, and Willian moved to Chelsea. But I do not have their contacts so far. Maybe I'll find a way to contact them later.

About Allardyce and Lucescu
- They are two different specialists. Their philosophy and views on football are different. Besides, characteristics of the players of Shakhtar and West Ham are markedly different. It also affects the teams’ playing style and the coaches’ requirements. The English Premier League is different from the Ukrainian Premier League. If the Donetsk club is in many components superior to all of their opponents, West Ham compete with the top teams, respectively, this influences the game.
About the physical loads
- I have felt the difference. Although the differences are insignificant. In my opinion, the loads in England are not so heavy. In fact, perhaps, it may be that in London we work no less, but, at least, the trainings are organised so that the players don’t get tired that much. Allardyce is trying to build trainings so that the players work with pleasure. Even when we have a fitness training, all the exercises involve ball handling. At Shakhtar, we did more training work without the ball.
About myths around Sam Allardyce
- He chews gum not because he drinks alcohol. More precisely, he does not drink alcohol, especially on match days. He just has such a habit. In England, this is normal. Not only the coach, but many players chew gum during games. By the way, one of the coaches of the national team of Romania has the same habit, but in doing so he has never drunk alcohol.
About the debut at West Ham
- Perhaps my debut will take place after my return from international duty. I am to take the field already in the matchday four away game against Southampton. At least I hope so. Recently, the Irishman Joey O'Brien played in my position. Generally he is a right back, but due to the fact that last season, the main left-back had his cruciate ligaments damaged, O'Brien was moved to the opposite flank. In principle, West Ham finished the last season well, and the manager decided to leave Joey on the left flank in the opening rounds of this league edition. Even before the start of the season Sam Allardyce told me that in the opening rounds he will not field me in the starting lineup. This is normal. He wanted me to feel the atmosphere of the English Premier League. Still, it's a new league for me and a totally different level. The coach explained to me that I should first get a feel for the English Premier League, and then he will field me.
About the Champions League draw
- I know that Shakhtar have been drawn into the same group with Manchester United,  Bayer  and  Real Sociedad. Now, there is no point in talking about the teams’ chances of reaching the knockout stage. Favourites and outsiders exist only on paper. All four clubs initially have theoretical chance of success, but time will reveal the reality. There are no weak sides in this group. Manchester United are considered the favourites b many, but you cannot be 100% sure that  they will advance from this quartet. Just remember how Shakhtar were put into the third pot, but eventually they claimed the top spot in the group with the London-based Arsenal.
About missing Donetsk
- Of course , I am missing it. I can safely call Donetsk my second home. I have lived in this city for ten years. When I have some free time and possibility, I will certainly pay Donetsk a visit. I've got a lot of friends there, I'll be happy to see them all.

About the fans of Shakhtar
- I am sending them a big hello and I want to wish them that their favourite team pleases them with spectacular and resounding victories as frequently as possible.

FC Shakhtar
Press Office