Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

United's Euopa League Foes Are Dreaming of Their Place in the Elite; Magpies Ready to Tackle Mega-Rich Russians - Whose Beginnings Were Rather More Humble

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

United's Euopa League Foes Are Dreaming of Their Place in the Elite; Magpies Ready to Tackle Mega-Rich Russians - Whose Beginnings Were Rather More Humble

Article excerpt

NEWCASTLE United will line up against one of the richest and most ambitious clubs in European football when they go toe to toe with Anzhi Makhachkala.

When it comes to life in the world of the Russian club you could easily be mistaken for drifting into the realms of fantasy football - after all, Anzhi can afford ANY player on the planet, including Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.

With 46-year-old owner Suleyman Kerimov reportedly worth $8bn, and 146th on Forbes' list of billionaires, Anzhi dream big, think big and spend big.

This is a guy who has been known to cough up for Christina Aguilera, Shakira and Jessie J to perform at his private parties and owns one of the world's largest private yachts.

Former Barcelona and Inter Milan star Samuel Eto'o is living evidence of that and trousers PS350,000 per WEEK to lead the line of attack for the Russian club.

And while they may have to play their European games 1,000 miles away from their troubled Dagestan home, where they can't play Europa League games due to political unrest, Anzhi are still dreaming of a brighter future.

Kerimov said: "The football club stands out against all the negative news. People are starting to hope for the better.

"Such stars don't play everywhere, and, look, they're in Makhachkala!

"People have something to be proud of. It means they can see something positive there and they gain the motivation to work."

Global football icon Roberto Carlos was signed by Kerimov, and after retiring will be in the stands as team director. With Guus Hiddink also on board, the experienced Dutchman knows that the billionaire owner wants Anzhi on the football map.

Yet Anzhi are a club with humbling beginnings and began life in 1991 as a third-tier team.

At the same time Newcastle were lining up in the old Second Division with Mick Quinn as the big star on Tyneside and surrounded by a team of promising teenagers like Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Robbie Elliott, Alan Thompson and Steve Howey, it wasn't always such an exciting time to be an Anzhi fan. …

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