Mikhail Sokolovskiy: My record has lasted 29 years
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Shakhtar legendary midfielder and long-term captain shared his take on the club record that can be broken by Darijo Srna in the nearest future
- Mikhail Grigor’yevich, how have you reached the milestone of 485 matches and why did you stop at that point?
- Let's put it as follows, it wasn’t me who stopped, they stopped me rather. I would’ve loved to play for another year or two, but our coach Anatoliy Kon'kov had a different opinion. Back in Soviet times, you had to really love football in order to play so many games! And at age 50, playing for the veterans, I took the field with just the same desire as at 30. Football has remained in my heart for a lifetime.
- What are the main differences between football of your times and current football?
- Previously, it was the people’s game, with each district centre, each city and town having a team supported by all the locals. While currently, it’s unclear for whom many contemporary clubs exist: when the owner runs out of money, the team just disappears. That is, there is no stability that existed back in my times. Yes, there are some exceptions, like Shakhtar, Dynamo. The Pitmen remain to be a great team, who, despite all the difficulties, achieve success on the European stage. The majority of other clubs, unfortunately, have been at the bottom of the heap. That’s the main difference.
- Through what qualities has Darijo Srna achieved your record of 485 apps?
- Darijo found his team, his coach and his president! They believe in him. Being the personification of today's Shakhtar. This is a team of European class, playing in the Champions League every year, boasting a great number of brilliant victories. Srna has been captaining for many years now, the whole of Europe know him. I think Darijo has not gone anywhere over the time, because enough is as good as a feast. He's a good guy and a good player. Honestly, I am very pleased that Shakhtar have such a captain. As time goes by, new people appear. But he leaves a big mark. Same big as Starukhin and Degterev left back in my age... More than thirty years have passed, but people remember them and talk about them just as much as about the current Shakhtar.
- You communicate with Darijo. Did you have a word with him about the record?
- I'll still talk to him on April 14! Darijo is a cheerful guy, an optimist. He can express some criticism towards a player which will benefit the latter, but at the same time he can support the latter through encouragement. I know that when we played in the UEFA Cup final and someone made a mistake, he shouted: No worries. We will smash them anyway! That’s a real captain.
- What will you tell him when meeting him?
- I will say “Well done” to him! Still my record has lasted for 29 years. In general, we like to joke. Once I told him, “Everyone was saying that I was the best. Consider that you're still better than me!”