Ex-Man Utd star Andrei Kanchelskis reveals all from his colourful career | Football | Sport

Andrei KanchelskisGETTY

Andrei Kanchelskis has lifted the lid on his colourful football career

“When a foreign footballer comes into a [English] dressing room, he will be taught how to swear,” says the former United winger, now 48. “The players also taught me the correct way to address the manager of Manchester United.

“Almost the first time I came across Alex Ferguson in the corridors of the Cliff [United’s old training ground] he said to me: ‘All right Andrei, how’s it going?’ I smiled at him and replied: ‘F*** off, Scottish b*****d.”

“Ferguson stopped dead in his tracks – and then began to smile as he heard laughter echoing down the corridors, while I stood there bewildered.”

Again, that is perhaps not the most shocking memory of his time at Old Trafford. Kanchelskis was also a witness to a post-match exchange between Ferguson and Mark Hughes.

“Ferguson tried to take on Hughes – and Hughes would not have it. They were squaring up to each other and Brian Kidd, the assistant manager, was trying to get between them, pleading with them to calm down.

Everyone seems to have theory as to why I left

Andrei Kanchelskis

“Hughes kept telling Ferguson to ‘f*** off. Ferguson replied: ‘One week’s wages’. ‘F*** off,” retorted Hughes. ‘Two weeks wages,’ said Fergie. ‘F*** right off’, said Hughes. ‘Three weeks wages’ said Fergie.

“And Kiddo was trying to push them apart, saying: ‘Stop, stop. For God’s sake, both of you just stop!’

“What was so extraordinary about Ferguson’s loss of temper was how quickly he calmed down. If we lost, he could be very aggressive. For 10 minutes in the dressing room after a defeat all you would hear would be his voice, loudly going back and forth across the room, It was intimidating. And it was meant to be.

“Once he had said what he wanted to say, his voice would go back to normal and he would treat you as if nothing had happened.”

Kanchelskis had a colourful, controversial and nomadic playing career – and his life has followed the same pattern since hanging up his boots.

You name it and has been through it; the tragedy of losing his first child before he was born, hate mail when he elected to play for Russia rather than his native Ukraine, a terrorist scare when playing Saudi Arabia and an expensive divorce when his wife left him for a Russian pop star.

Andrei KanchelskisGETTY

Andrei Kanchelskis won two Premier League titles with Manchester United

He has had several short-lived attempts at management at some pretty obscure Russian clubs and is now coaching students in Moscow.

Undoubtedly, the best spell of his career was the four years he spent under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. He has always regretted leaving, although he insists it was because of a bust-up over an injury rather than the popular theory around at the time that it was because he needed money.

“Everyone seems to have theory as to why I left,” he says. “Some think it was pressure from the Russian mafia who wanted to make a financial killing from a big transfer. Others say it was because I had lost so much money in the city’s casinos and I needed the pay day I would get from a move.

“I heard these rumours when they first came out and they made me angry, although now they just make me smile.

“The real reason was that the club physio at the time, Dave Fevre, didn’t believe I needed a hernia operation and accused me of trying to avoid playing for the club. The anger built up inside me and I told them I wanted to leave.”

Kanchelskis however admits his agent at the time, Grigori Essaoulenko, the man who once attempted to give Ferguson a £40,000 ‘gift,’ encouraged him to push for a move because he was under pressure from his former club Shakhtar Donetsk who were entitled to a sell-on fee if he was sold.

“Looking back it was a mistake on both sides,” says Kanchelskis. “Essaoulenko’s advice was not impartial. There seemed to be a lot of pressure on him to do the deal. Shakhtar were entitled to at least £500,000 if United sold me. Some said the figure they eventually received as closer to £1.5million.”

If his ‘divorce’ from United was painful, his parting from wife and childhood sweet heart Inna cleaned him out financially and led to a rift – since healed – with his two children, son Andrei junior and daughter Eva.

“My wife Inna met Stas Mikhailov, who is Russia’s most famous pop singer. I believe they met after one of his concerts in Moscow. I was shocked what happened, stunned. I did not see it coming.

Andrei KanchelskisGETTY

Andrei Kanchelskis made 145 appearances for United between 1991-95

“The divorce took a long time. Inna wanted the flat in Moscow and the house we had in Sussex for her and the children.

“In Russia it was treated as a major scandal. Inna was interviewed on television to give her side of the divorce and I was offered a lot of money to do the same. I turned them down. A television studio is not the place to go through the details of your marriage.

“All I wanted to do was to be able to see the children again. Andrei would have been around 16 and Eva 11 or 12. They were hard times. I moved out of our flat in Moscow and found somewhere to rent.

“My relationship with my children is now back to what it was. They are both living in London.”

Russian Winters, the autobiography of Andrei Kanchelskis (deCoubertin), is available now from the following link: www.decoubertin.co.uk/Kanchelskis

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