A fullback for St. Petersburg’s FC Zenit, Aleksander Aniukov has been named ambassador for Samara as a host city of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, welcome2018.com was informed by Samara’s Directorate-2018.
Having signed his contract, the footballer paid a visit to the construction site of the arena, which is to host games of the World Cup in Samara.
"I’ve seen a great many stadiums, but this is the first one I see being built,” Aniukov said. “I do hope I get to play in Samara Arena myself. I grew up in Samara’s Promyshlenny Rayon. My friends and I used to play in our schoolyard football field as kids. Little did I know that my hometown would someday host a football World Cup. I could not even have dreamt about it. When I first heard that Samara was among the cities slated to host the 2018 World Cup, I thought: how cool is that!’
Aniukov is the fourth ambassador named by Samara. The other three World Cup ambassadors for the city are accordion player Sergey Voitenko, Olympic judo champion Tagir Khaibulayev, and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.
The title of World Cup Ambassador is awarded to people of consequence, honoured exponents of their trade or profession. The ambassadors are supposed to join the team working on the preparation and staging of the World Cup. They are expected to promote positive values, sports and healthy living, assist in projecting a positive image of Russia and of the 2018 World Cup host cities across the IT environment, and participate of various official events.
Born in Samara in 1982
At the dawn of his career, Aleksander Aniukov played for Samara’s FC Krylya Sovietov for five years, winning bronze with the team at the 2004 Russian championship.
He transferred to St. Petersburg’s Zenit in 2005, and has played for the club ever since. Aniukov has won Russian championships four times with Zenit, in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015, won the Russian cup competitions twice, in 2010 and 2016, and UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2008. Aniukov was on the Russia squad when it won bronze medals at Euro 2008. He has played a total of 77 games with the national squad.
St. Petersburg’s Zenit, one Russia’s most distinguished football clubs, celebrated its 91st birthday last May 25. Having won a huge number of awards during Soviet time, Zenit has always remained a strong team that will not be stared down by any adversary. Zenit is number seven in the top 20 teams of the Soviet championship history.