Sergey Ignatovich has finally settled in Brest. Last winter he has made his first professional transfer.
The goalkeeper speaks about changes in his life, recollects bright episodes and summarizes the starting part of the season in the big interview.
Both goalkeepers of Dynamo Brest were born and grew up in Mogilev. Is there a special “goalkeeping” atmosphere in the city?
No, of course, there’s no special air that improves your goalkeeping abilities or stuff like that. It’s just a coincidence, nothing more. Moreover, Mogilev, like Brest, is not a little town. Pavlyuchenko was born in a different part of the city. On top, we have a big age gap with Pasha, so we weren’t acquainted in youth and our paths haven’t crossed in the streets or in competitions.
But you definitely recollect your native city in private talks…
Yes, surely, we discuss Mogilev, how it’s changed recently. I’d like to say, it improved a lot. I rarely visit it, and the changes are easily seen. My native Kazimirovka district is now much more comfortable than it used to be 10-15 years ago.
You have moved very early from Mogilev, haven’t you?
Yes, I was 15-16. Pavel Rodnenok started calling me up into junior team of our country and soon I settled in Minsk. In a year I signed my first contract with Dinamo Minsk, where stayed for 10 years. I’ve done a long way: first that was a youth team, then – reserves, then followed a loan in the First League (FC Bereza was a farm team of Dinamo Minsk). And finally, I broke into the first team. To be true, I cannot believe I’ve managed to get it through.
You had really classy competitors for the first-team place in Dinamo Minsk. Who will be on top in that list, in your opinion?
Okay, let’s recollect them all. Sulima, Khomutovskiy, Gutor, Gorbunov, Klimovich – they all are top-class goalkeepers for Belarusian championship. It’s hard to pick one. Let me say like this: every goalkeeper from the list had and has certain strengths, and everyone has own weak points. So, throughout my career I tried to take the best from my teammates, leaving negative moments behind.
What can you tell about Khomutovskiy’s level?
I think, the Wikipedia page will clear the level of Mr. Khomutovskiy. The goalkeeper has played in Germany, Romania, Russia and Ukraine, remaining the first choice for Belarusian national team. Khomutovskiy has great experience, and from the off I felt he’s eager to share the knowledge. Today he’s a quality coach, and that’s one of the reasons for my move to Dynamo Brest.
What other reasons provoked you to make your first professional transfer?
One day I realized that I need to pull myself out from the comfort zone. I’ve had a long way at Dinamo Minsk, but maybe, it was too long. It took me little time to think over the Brest’s offer. The team has a great set of players, big ambitions and the debut in the Champions League is ahead. Moreover, there’s an interesting training process and a great coaching staff. I think Khomutovskiy is one of the best goalkeeping specialists in the country. The methods and approach of Vasily give results, it’s obvious. As I’ve said, I weighed all pros and cons and decided to accept the new challenge.
How was the adaptation in a new team?
There are always two aspects – working and private. As far as it concerns the players, there were no problems. Some of the lads have been my teammates in the previous club, the others I met as opponents. Besides, goalkeeping work during pre-season camps, when you build the basis for whole season, is in general the same in every team. As for the private life, there were no serious problems as well. Brest is a cosy and comfortable city, there’s everything my family needs. However, I needed some time to recognize myself as a Dynamo Brest player. Today I can firmly state that the adaptation is over.
Has the coronavirus pandemic reflected on your preparation or way of life?
The preparation hasn’t changed at all. But the lifestyle has changed of course. We try to avoid going out, spend more time at home. We rarely visit shopping centers or other places with large number of people. We take all measures, like washing our hands and using antiseptics. To be true, I used to be a homeboy before, so it’s easy for me to accept the new challenge, although sometimes we need to have a rest from each other.
There’s always a competition for the first-team place in Dynamo Brest. Does this help or interfere the development?
It’s OK. Let me clear out my position: we all work for team results. If the coaching staff decides to rotate the goalkeepers, let it be. Sometimes we need to sacrifice own ambitions for the sake of club interests.
Doesn’t the absence of official football become a problem for you?
There’s no problem, everything is discussed clearly and transparently. We have an intensive training process, this helps me in building cohesion with other teammates and coaches. The coaches decide whom to pick before every game. Both goalkeepers understand the criteria of the choice and get additional motivation for further professional growth.
Do you have some rituals before appearing on the pitch?
No, nothing strange. Francesco Toldo used to kiss posts before the kick-off, Fabien Barthez’ head was kissed by the captain. But I’ve never had rituals like that. It’s a bit odd for me to do same things during years hoping it would bring you luck. Every game is a new story, every day you have to move on.
Do you have a match that you remembered best of all?
I don’t have such a game, but maybe there was a special match. That was my debut in Belarusian Clasico at Borisov Arena in 2014. That was my second appearance for Dinamo Minsk, I was very excited, wanted to show my best football. In the end, I had a nice game, the final result was 0:0. That game had a very positive impact on my team and me personally. I’m still grateful to Vladimir Zhuravel for his trust.
Do you realize the game’s yours or not right after the final whistle? Can you find own mistakes without the coach’s help?
I can, but what’s the point? Sometimes I think I did well in this or that episode, but the coach would show me a better way to play and explain how to perform better. At the same time, you always blame yourselves after a conceded goal, but after watching a review and coach’s explanations you understand that your teammates have to take blames also. In general, it’s not a good idea to start analyzing own performance right after the final whistle. It’s better to calm down and then examine the situation from several sides.
How would you assess the start of your team in the new season?
Speaking about results, everything is good. We’ve won the Super Cup, and what’s more important, reached the Final of the Cup. Let’s leave the circumstances, no one will remember the second leg in Soligorsk in a couple of years, but everyone will remember us playing in the Final. We don’t play ideally in the League, but it’s just started, and moreover, all favorites don’t show their best football. As far as it concerns the quality of our performance, there’s room for improvement; supporters, managers, coaches and players, - we all want to show better football. And we work hardly to do it.
As for our goals, no one changed it. We are still aimed at victory in all domestic competitions and a good performance in the Champions League.
What’s your favorite app in the phone?
Music player, however I don’t have a favorite style of music.
Kind of sports, apart from football?
Basketball. I play only on amateur level, but I love watching top-leagues’ games.
Best place in the world?
I was overwhelmed with the Portuguese isle Madeira. We’ve travelled there together with Dinamo Minsk to qualify to the group stage of Europa League.
Best place in Belarus?
This is the place where my wife and kid wait for me.
Favorite movie or series?
Shameless with William Macy.
Vacations at sea or in the mountains?
Pizza or sushi?
Pizza, however I know sushi’s better for a footballer :)