“They’re trying to poison us!” Fyodor Cherenkov was screaming, refusing to eat his soup. His teammates Spartak Moscow, next to him in the dining room, were stunned. It was March 1984 and they were preparing for the UEFA Cup quarter-final rematch. against Anderlecht, taking place in Tbilisi because of the cold weather in the Soviet capital.
The Belgians won the first game in Brussels 4-2, but Spartak had no chance, they had a great team, the best in a generation. now there was something wrong with their star. Just four months earlier, Cherenkov shone on the European scene scoring two goals – including a dramatic last-minute winner – when Spartak knocked out Aston Villa. According to reports, Villa was so impressed that they attempted to sign a contract with a 24-year-old midfielder.
They would know all too well that the Soviet establishment would never allow its players – let alone major figures like Cherenkov – to move to the West. Overall, 1983 was a phenomenal year for Cherenkov. He was undoubtedly the best footballer in the country and won the Soviet Union Player of the Year award despite Spartak finishing second in the league. He was an important figure for the national team also scored two goals in qualifying for the European Championship in a 5-0 demise of Portugal. This increase brought new pressure with it. “The psychological stress for him was probably too high “says Sergey Rodionov. Spartak’s star striker of the 1980s and Cherenkov’s closest friend.
Those who witnessed the frightening scenes in Tbilisi don’t like to talk about it. Cherenkov experienced hallucinations, visions of imaginary dangers and even tried to jump out Spartak coach Konstantin Beskov knew that he could not play against Anderlecht. Cherenkov didn’t understand why he was being dropped. Rodionov scored a late goal in a 1-0 win, but it wasn’t that enough and Spartak went 4-3 total. But defeat was the last thing on the players’ minds. Cherenkov’s health worried them. On his return to Moscow, he was immediately taken to hospital and did not return to the field until June.
What was he suffering from? No one knows for sure, but it has not gone away and hospital visits have become frequent. It would shape the rest of his career and be part of his life until the very end. “Fyodor has experienced periods of depression and stress, but we never fully understood the nature of these problems. cannot be diagnosed. We can only guess, “says Rodionov. This word – genius – is universally used by those who have seen Cherenkov play, and especially by those lucky enough to be his teammates.