Euro Moments: Andrei Arshavin burns his brightest for Russia
Attacker flopped for Arsenal but Euro 2008 performances made elite clubs take notice
Andrei Arshavin slots past Edwin van der Sar during his Euro 2008 peak. Photograph: Getty
Euro 2008: Holland 1 Russia 3
June 21st 2008
Okay, this wasn’t actually a particularly great goal, for a start it takes a deflection before it passes through Edwin van der Sar’s legs but at that particular moment it seemed to copper fasten the notion that Anrei Arshavin was the game’s hottest property and his genius could, almost by itself, propel Russia to the European title.
Arshavin had in fact been suspended for his team’s first two games at Euro2008 and when Guus Hiddink’s men lost 4-1 to Spain in their first outing it was by no means clear that they would make the knockout stages.
After a 1-0 win over defending champions Greece, however, the Zenit St Petersburg star made an astonishing impact when he came in for the game against Sweden, running the show, scoring the game’s second goal and picking up the Man of the Match award.
Against the Dutch just three days later, he started slowly but gathered a momentum that seemed to make completely unstoppable with Andre Ooijer one of several defenders to spend the latter part of the contest chasing his tail. Another Man of the Match award was to follow.
One of Arshavin’s outstanding crosses for Dmitri Torbinski in extra-time, the second of which was converted, might actually be a better moment to remember the then 27 year-old’s performance by but hey, finding space is a talent too and Arshavin found an absolute acre of it in the build up his goal, Russia third and the one that effectively put the result beyond any doubt.
His form was already attracting attention for the biggest international clubs with Barcelona reported to have been circling before the rematch with Spain in the semi-finals but Arshavin performed a trick then that Arsenal fans would subsequently grow used to during his time in North London, vanishing without a trace after having ensured that everybody would be looking out for him.
He actually committed more fouls in the Spain game than were committed against him and Barcelona quietly put away their chequebook again. Still, we’ll always have those 210 minutes when we thought he could light up the game on a slightly more consistent basis. He’s now playing in Macedonia.