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Rovers World Cup Connections: Russia

10 June 2018

Look back links with Rovers and FIFA World Cup 2018 hosts, Russia.

Hosts Russia are competing in their eleventh World Cup Finals and were semi finalists in 1966.

The Rovers Player born in Russia

Incredible though it may sound, one former Rovers player was born in Russia.

Lewis Frank played in one match for Rovers against Warmley in April 1891; a goal behind at the interval, Rovers crashed 5-1, Fred Webley scoring a hat trick.

Nineteenth century census returns show that he was a Russian Jew, born somewhere in the Russian Empire in 1862. He fled to Leeds, where he married German born Etty Cohen in 1889. Two of their five children were born in Leeds and the younger three in Bristol, when Frank was working as a tailor in William Street, Bedminster. None of the family can be traced in the 1911 census, when war clouds were gathering across Europe.

A Russian Opponent

Born in Siberia in May 1975, Alexei Smertin played for Fulham against Rovers in the FA Cup in January 2008. The holder of 55 full Russian caps, he played for Lokomotiv Moscow and Dynamo Moscow and is now a director at the latter.

Igor Gurinovich, a Ukrainian born in Minsk in March 1960, was in the Brighton side which opposed Rovers on Boxing Day 1990. Briefly at Lokomotiv Moscow in 1988, he also won a solitary full cap with the USSR.

Russian international Pavel Pogrebnyak played for Reading against Rovers in pre-season friendlies in both 2013 and 2015. Born in November 1983, he scored eight goals in 33 full internationals for Russia and also represented six different Russian club sides. 

A Pirate in Russia

Several opponents have furthered their careers in Russia, but the only Rovers player to have done so was Latvian international captain Vitalijs Astafjevs.

Having scored 16 goals for Rovers in 95 League matches between 2000 and 2003, Astafjevs scored four times in 30 Russian League matches with Rubin Kazan from August 2004 to March 2006.

Marcel Seip, who played for Plymouth Argyle and Bradford City against Rovers, also appeared for Spartak Moscow, Andrejs Stolčers (Yeovil Town) was also at Spartak, Branislav Ivanović (Chelsea, League Cup) was at Lokomotiv Moscow and Nuno Espirito Santo, who managed Wolves against Rovers in the League Cup in September 2017, used to play in goal for Dynamo Moscow.

 


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