Likhtarovich: FC BATE is more than a club to me

07 october 2014 16:00

Likhtarovich: FC BATE is more than a club to me

The Yellow-Blues' skipper Dzmitry Likhtarovich talks to UEFA Champions League Magazin about his career and new challenges in 2014/15 Group Stage.

- First of all, thank you very much for finding time to talk with us. My first question goes without saying: how did you react to the results of the draw and how you evaluate the team's situation?
- Well, the draw is the draw. Of course, some people may have some preferences, in terms of teams. For example, I wanted to play against an English club, because we've never played against them in the Champions League. But, we are playing against top quality teams, such as Athletic Club, FC Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been playing in European cup competitions for many years. They are very strong teams. So, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

- In your opinion, which are the key matches and which matches are you personally looking forward to and for what reasons?
- Well, I think that in our case all the matches are key matches. In every match we can go out and fight for every point; I wouldn't highlight any in particular. I think that, first and foremost, all the matches will be interesting and tough.

- Speak about the victory over SK Slovan Bratislava; what was the game like, what was the decisive factor in your victory and what emotions did you feel at the final whistle?
- Well, naturally, we felt a lot of happiness and pleasure since we won in our home stadium. I thought we deserved the victory because of our unbelievable attitude and concentration and selflessness. In other words, we put everything in our ninety minutes and showed that we have a great group and therefore we were able to win.

- You touched upon an important factor: the support of the stadium. In your opinion, what does the Champions League mean for the Belarusian supporter and how does the participation of your club in the Champions League influence football in the country as a whole?
- Well, naturally, I think that any supporter will happily come to the stadium. The only negative is that the stadium only holds 13,000 people, it could be bigger. But, it is what it is. Its influence? Well, I think, in fact, that it helps to develop Belarusian football. That's my opinion because in recent years BATE has been in the group stages a few times, which speaks about a lot.

- Do the footballers feel any added pressure connected with the fact that in the Champions League you're representing not only BATE, not only Borisov, but Belarus?
- I wouldn't say it was pressure, it's just concern. Concern that we get good results; it's on our minds let's say. Everyone wants to do well for the country because it's such an important competition

- You're the most experience player in the team, you've played the most matches and you've played in all of BATE's experiences in the Champions League group stage. What role does BATE have in your life?
- Well, I've spent most of my career at BATE and, of course, BATE is more than a club to me. I've said it many times but it's like a family around you. I'm referring to the coaches as well, who lead the team. There's always been a good relationship between the coaches, the medical staff and, of course, the players as well. We've always lived together in a friendly and united way.

- Two years ago, you played in the home match where you achieved an unexpected victory against Bayern Munich, 3-1. What do you remember of that evening and how can the experience of that victory help the team to get new victories.
- Of course I remember that match because it was unexpected, first and foremost, not for us, but for them, Bayern Munich. They probably underestimated us and they paid for this. Of course, it's a lovely memory; not everyone can say they've done this, so it's something to remember and something to tell people about.  

- You were playing with BATE when they first got into this competition. Then, in 2008, you played in the home match against Juventus on the left-wing and you gave the pass for Sergey Krivets to score. Do you still remember that pass and do you think that this goal is important in terms of the history of Belarusian clubs in European tournaments?
- Of course, it was the first home game in the Champions League. It was a dream to play against such a historic team like Juventus. The experience was important but unfortunately we could have won that game and it ended in a draw. So, there is a little bit of disappointment but if you just take the result, then of course everyone was happy.

- Back in the day, you played in central midfield with Aleksandr Yermakovich and this partnership was considered one of the best in Belarus. In your youth, you played with him and you know him well, what outstanding qualities did he have as a footballer and how have these transferred into his role as Head Coach?
- Well, what can I say? He was a top-quality footballer in his time; it was always a pleasure playing with him on the pitch and, even more so, playing alongside him. What can I say about his qualities? He was a very technical footballer and he could play with both feet, which in general is rare.

- Which of these qualities as a player have transferred into his role as a coach?
- Perhaps not his qualities as a player, but his level-headedness. This quality is a hallmark of his coaching career. He has proved this, by leading our team into the group stage of the Champions League.

- What are the strong points of today's BATE and what do you need to do to surprise the public?
- Well, we don't have any 'stars' in the team; the results we achieve come about, first and foremost, due to - once again, I'll repeat myself - our selflessness and our unity on the pitch. These are more important to us than any individual qualities of players.