Sergey Semak: “as you go, you have to stay”

The name of the Semak familiar even to non-football people, the only five-time champion of Russia in three clubs, a bronze medalist of the European championship, member of club one Hundred Russian scorers, from may 2018 — the head coach “Zenith”. But Semak is not only a gifted athlete, he is also a father two years ago has taken a child from the orphanage, the head of the charity Fund, a deeply religious man, the brother who became a monk. The correspondent of “Pravmir” Nastya Dmitrieva spoke with the legend of Russian football about his life off the field.


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If you take a break, not the fact that I will return

– You come from a football family: your dad played for the area’s older brother is also in football. What you began to play football, is the continuity or personal choice?

It was my personal choice. Dad really a fan of football, although at the professional level is not played, but his love for the sport instilled in children. I must admit that at the time of entertainment of villagers were few, and football was just the main part. All the boys in school were playing football and, naturally, it all fascinated. In winter hockey. Nothing else was no other than hide and seek, I guess.

So the family was sports, some boys we had five children in the family. Three of them, including myself, played at a professional level. And two brothers who could easily play as professionals, but chose a different type of activity that is not associated with the sport.

In childhood

– When you understood that will football to do in life?

– I’m quite stubborn. And when he first came to the football section, I really liked to do. However, all the other boys were older than two years. I liked the coach, which was nice. He taught me a lot, and multiply that laid the father.

– Sergey, you have a lot of exclusivity in your career. You – the youngest team captain, one of the few who up to 18 years old scored his first goal, the only five-time champion in the three clubs. Do you still not taken the boundaries that I’d like to conquer?

– A lot of them. Borders is certainly interesting, but more important the path that puts you in a challenging environment, and you need from these conditions to get out with honor and dignity, try to achieve the highest possible goal. The one you set for yourself. Sometimes it turns out to get it, sometimes not, but the way is very important, interesting and exciting. This is a case where I continue to be able to do something, I think. But the future will show how well.

– Position coach also was the target?

– No, in fact, when I played, I thought just the job the head coach is very far from me. I understand how hard that is, and tried to move away from it. When he finished his playing career, was the choice on where to go and what to do. I decided to stay in football, he became an assistant, assistant coach. Subsequently, indeed, is already beginning to like.

Full understanding came when I was the acting coach for a few games. Then was able to experience what it is. It’s very hard, but interesting. This is the work that causes many to worry, to worry. It takes a lot of energy, but, on the other hand, delivers a huge amount of joy, if you see the result, the fruits of work.

– Head coach of “Ufa” and the main trainer of “Zenith” – what’s the difference?

– There is a big difference. The coach is the coach. You are always responsible for the result, for the team. It is clear that the attitude of “Zenith” else: ambition of the club above, the excitement around the team a lot more. Players on a higher level, many require an individual approach. I try to pay a lot of attention.

– You said you were at the point of choice: to stay in football one way or another, or something else to choose. What else could I choose?

– Family respite. A player’s career was long, and of course the family wanted that at least for some period, I took the time to rest, I stayed with them. But it’s a double-edged sword: if you take a break, not the fact that come back and you can find the place where you want. And, as a rule, where players end up, where they offer some work, at the club or coaching staff.

I was lucky, I was invited Spalletti’s assistant and I decided to try to do it in this case to understand mine or not mine. Finally for myself, probably, decided that, Yes, that’s what I wanted to do, only after the departure of the “Ufa”. It’s not only the “want – not”, the question is: how will or will not work. It is important to invest himself and to see if there is a result.

– Easy family supported your decision?

– Easy enough. Deferred for later. I explained that the work of coaching is complex, but if you refuse this offer, the other may not be.

– Not afraid to put them off. Then sometimes doesn’t happen.

– It is terrible. But the decision should always be taken.

Sergei Semak. Photo:

Brother started with football, and became a monk

– With football you from childhood, and with faith in God? You were born in a Communist country. How did you come to God?

– Yes, it is harder. It seems to me that God was always near me, mainly thanks to the prayers of my grandmother, who remained a believer even in the years of persecution. She has always been an icon, she told me a lot about faith.

Of course, it was difficult, because the propaganda in the school was conducted and was quite hard. However, there was also an example before my eyes. And the view of the grandmother, which she never does not impose, but simply lived, I would say, monastic life in the world, has always been my sincere admiration. I believe that not only me but all my brothers. I still remember and realize how strong she was.

– What was her name?

– Faith.

– Thanks to her parents also came to faith?

– Parents are also faced with society. At that time it was very difficult to be a believer in the full sense of the word.

– Maybe in the village it was easier?

– No, it was more difficult. In the district, probably in the 40-60 kilometers there was not a single temple. Once the Church was in almost every village, but in Soviet time all of them were destroyed and broken. The nearest was difficult just to reach, not something that constantly visit.

– The faith you have absorbed since childhood, it turns out? There was no clear moment when you believe in God?

God was always there. But it is fellowship, parish, Orthodox life with all its holidays and the components, prichastnymi came to me much later, already in conscious age. So I was a long way from when, as they say, God is in the soul or heart, and churched to the life of a believer. It is absolutely different things. With the height of past years understand how elementary my path and the vision at that time was different from the present or from the right.

– Correct – what’s that?

– I don’t think not visiting the Church, having a spiritual mentor, not living the life of an Orthodox person, at 100% it is possible to satisfy emotional needs, including my.

Sergei Semak. Photo:

I need to communicate with a spiritual mentor. I feel good, regularly visiting the temples, where I feel like home.

– Were you ever a crisis of faith?

– No, this was not. Can not boast of may be the regularity of prichastil and due to work schedule, traveling, and due to the difficult life that always accompanies the life of a large family. In this respect there is great potential for work. Otherwise, the crisis that would somehow remove me from the Church, never was.

– I know your brother in the monastery is gone, right?

– Yes, younger brother – monk.

– He was a natural path since childhood with the grandmother?

Predisposition, Yes. He began his career, played professional football. After a certain point decided what he wanted in life. And decided to drastically change everything, and has no regrets. And I am very glad that he chose. He does what he likes, and happy. This is the most important.

You act like the elder brother, this decision completely?

– Yes, I accept it, although parents were more difficult going back to how they came to God. His actions greatly helped our entire family. I think it is an Act with a capital letter, which forced parents and brothers to look a little different on the monastic life. It is very good.

Of course, it was a misunderstanding of what it means to be a monk. The first reaction of parents – all, he went to the monastery, and they’ll never see him again.

– “Save” didn’t want him?

– Yes, they are very worried. When he came to the monastery, said: “We’re gonna get out of here.” The Abbot answered: “You not me, you God take. It’s his decision.” Still, some time passed, the parents came to the realization that they can visit, can visit, can communicate. In principle, nothing has changed in terms of contact and communication, which for them, of course, was the most important factor.

To combine football with Christianity is easy

– Do your parents still live in the Luhansk region. Events between Russia and Ukraine on your family personally affected? On your communication with your family and friends who stayed there? This discontinuity line, many passed.

– Yes, I understand. Visibility of what is happening is what we see and what I see are people who live on the other side of the border, in the unrecognized republics. Everyone has some point of contact and misunderstanding, because when it comes to full-scale hostilities, it is very difficult to find right or wrong.

War exposes, on the one hand, the good qualities of people, on the other hand is the worst. Or a hero in all sense of the word, or the accumulated pain and resentment of all spills in the ability to perform any action that in ordinary life man is not capable of.

So someone from the family continue to communicate. Someone who lives on the territory of the unrecognized republics, someone- on the territory of Ukraine. In my understanding, the issue may be resolved only by political means. Politics is never clean, however, any questions regarding military action cause I have a sharp rejection, and I’m very sorry for the people who suffer.

And football can be clean?

– It is clear and clean. If you take globally, probably still there are downsides. Football invented, possibly in order to distract from more important and global reasoning, from understanding the importance of existence.


But not so one-sided measure: this is white, but is black. There is gray, there are many other colors, there are a lot of good.

And the players – people public, it’s a sport which evokes a sense of pride for their country, patriotism, respect. It’s a hard sport, hard work as such. So there is something to be respected players.

Football is big business. Difficult to reconcile with Christianity?

– A snap. We must always try to do the right thing and be honest.

The Foundation has a step-by-step

I know that you are not only Church-going Christian, married in the Church, but Chairman of the charitable Fund “St. John family.” How did this happen?

– This story is long, but as they say, all is Providence. In his youth, my wife Anne always kept an icon of St. righteous John of Kronstadt. And when we moved to Saint Petersburg, became interested in where the nearest temple. We were told about the Ioannovsky monastery on Karpovka. Where we come from. As it turned out, came to the right place: the monastery was founded by Sam John of Kronstadt, and there was he buried 110 years ago, and today there is his tomb.

We met with Archpriest Nikolai Belyaev, a senior priest of the monastery, which became our spiritual father and godfather of our child. And under his guidance went further our life – family, marriage, Church.

I’m glad I met such a wonderful priest in your path. This is an important issue: find your spiritual father you came that you understood very correctly and sensitively directed. Of course, living in Kazan before, in other cities, we also spoke with the priests, went to the temple, but such binding in the mentoring plan was not there.

And as a Foundation in your life?

– The Fund appeared step by step. At first it was a charity Fund “the Great shepherd John of Kronstadt”, which in 2009 were cooking activities in the framework of the 100th anniversary since the death of the all-Russian pastor, then the holidays, which were prepared for the 25th anniversary of the canonization of father among the saints John. We were drawn to the extent possible, participate in organizing different kinds of events and celebrations. To take some share of the workload, responsibility for what is happening and help with what we can, quite naturally.

The parish is very interestingly arranged. All permanent parishioners are United in community for a professional or a different principle where everyone does their job. There is, for example, the community of “Patronage”, whose members help in the care of elderly and infirm people, there is community “Hippocrates”, which United physicians, providing parishioners with medical care. Legal guardianship, families with children, organization of holidays – activities, which also brings together parishioners in different communities. There is a community, which is engaged in prayer, and many other areas of organized mutual help of people to each other.

The program, “St. John’s family – 10 years”

In General, these communities 45. Among them there are also community “Mite”, created to assist in serious financial situations. One thing – one person to collect roughly 500 thousand, and another thing, when there are 20 people on 20 thousand to donate. It is much easier, simpler and less noticeable for the budget of a particular family. The activities of all communities koordiniruyutsya father Nicholas.

– Your role is to help financially? Or do you take strategic decisions as a Manager?

– It depends. Strategic decisions taken by the Fund Council. Our work is diverse: it is a moral-Patriotic education for the younger generation, and organization of various events, for example, festive exhibitions, competitions, contributing to the unity of “John of the family” – a great Commonwealth, which includes over 300 participants worldwide: temples, monasteries, chapels, gymnasiums, shelters, brotherhood, Sisterhood, charitable foundations, companies and other Orthodox organizations, St. John of Kronstadt in Russia and abroad (overall, in 22 countries).

– When you and Anne met, she was a deeply religious man, or you, along some path through?

We walked a certain way, we have a similar situation except during childhood. If my examples were not, Anna lived near the temple, which was never closed. Her father is a Regent of the Church choir.

– You have orphanages to help. In SOS children’s villages go, right?

– . Now less time. Had more free time when I was a football player. Often able to meet, and now more difficult. But if I have the opportunity to participate with pleasure.

SOS children’s villages is very interesting: there are in fact children live in conditions close to family. Children of different ages, the older look after the younger ones, they go to a regular school. And it is easier to integrate children who have no parents in our society. They understand everything, they start about someone to care, someone to be friends. This is all right in my opinion.

Always afraid to go too far if the child is receiving

– When a foster child in the family, it is always associated with the adaptation process. At someone it is longer and more complex someone easier and faster. For you personally, as head of the family, as he passed?

– It was difficult, but based on what we heard, could be much worse. We have a middle option. Not always was going smoothly, but the huge complexities and difficulties, thank God, was not. Adaptation was quite difficult for children, for the Thani.

– And for you?

Let’s say I were expecting and preparing for more serious difficulties. Was heavy periods when I had a lot to talk, to think, to reason, to explain. Always afraid to go too far for the very reason that the child is receiving. Your children will understand, because I believe that you love them. A foster child may think: “yeah, if I he can be punished, then, not love”, just compare with others. In this complexity. But understanding the framework must exist. Therefore, we sometimes had to be tough to come up with some kind of punishment that helped to influence.

Since it was originally: abuse – the child sits and stares, as if switched off. Think, “Well, what would be so interesting to catch that man?”

This is the whole story. But now it’s all gone. Sometimes even when you napolianic or do something not very pleasant, to argue, for example, with the younger daughter, saying, “Tanya, well, you’re 12 years old and she was 5 years old.” Sometimes I don’t say anything, but when upset, she feels very strongly about her as soon as possible I want to make up with mom, with dad. She is very sensitive child.

I think the first stage has passed. Now there comes a time when a girl we will have to grow up, and this transitional age, I think, will also be difficult. All issues will be solved as they arrive.

Tanya. Photo: Valery of hares for TD

It was that hands down?

– No. The difficulties were, but so very deep… we Need to understand that you decide out on this path, then you should stick to it. Before you go, you have to stay. More than your powers of tests in life are not given. Have holding once, continue to go forward. Does not work, fall, get up again, go on. Such moments, I think we all have: error, stress and nerves are always present. We are all human living. But we must not give up.

– What have you in the family be punished?

– The penalties are different. Can put in the corner, who is excited and starts to behave too wildly. What I don’t accept is rudeness, disrespect to adults. But it all depends on how the child perceives the punishment. For someone strictly spoken word – already stress. And someone needs to think, to stand in the corner for 10-15 minutes to slightly recover.

There are different arguments about whether to punish children, for example, a belt or something. I’m sure if the punishment is inevitable, that is, in another way, it is important that it was deliberate and appropriate – that the kid knew that. You warned us, saying, “I’ll put you in a chair and you sit on it in the corner for half an hour”. That was the sequence. And try, whenever possible, not to punish, based on his emotional state.

– It turns out?

– Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Try learning.

– Strap you can beat?

– This is an extreme measure.

– They say that the belt is parental helplessness.

Yes. Although the issue is complex. Remember how earlier raised. Was the rod. The question is, do you cross a certain line beyond which you can’t control it. If you said one, two, three, four – no, then ask: “choose: strap or angle?” Wife told me that in her family it is practiced: there was a choice – belt, or a half hour in the corner to stand. Go with the belt, because half an hour to stand impossible.

But all this is at an early stage. When the child becomes older, 10-12 years old, useless education is already laid. We are talking about age, maybe from 4-5 to 7 years, when all laid, and the child tests the strength of a parent, exploring the limits: how strict he is, will there be a punishment and so on.

– How is it – to be a father of eight children? I can’t imagine.

Is cool first, of course. I myself grew up in a large family of five children. Now I have eight, that’s great, and it’s happiness.

Sergey and Anna Semak with children. Photo: Anton Ruzat,

– Then it was more familiar.

– Yes, habitually. But in addition, that the children are the happiness, they bring a huge positive change us. They make us better, more tolerant. And, of course, responsibility has not been canceled – for the education and for life. That will invest in the souls of children, we will get a more Mature age.

– How do you manage to find time for them? I sometimes feel that my daughter can’t find time.

– Is now incredibly difficult. I have time in the morning when I try to Wake up and accompany children to school. There is an evening dinner and a few hours, when we put them to sleep. We have another “otminusovat” the time when we go to another city when I can’t be there any morning or evening. It turns out quite a bit. There is a small vacation and previous vacation I got “burned” in connection with the change work.

– You went straight from “Ufa” in the “Zenith”?

– Yes, all normal people had a holiday, and I didn’t have one. So expect the December holiday so finally some time to spend with children.

– And get a rest? To turn off the phone – and you’re tough to reach, you and your family.

– No, can’t be disabled. I always have to be connected. Questions arises much, but at least a few hours to spend without the phone, half a day is, in principle, possible.

– A few hours without a phone is rest?

Yes. If we have the opportunity, we have a bit of rest, say, five days, take yourself for two. And then two weeks with the kids.

– How do you role with Anna distributed? You also often not at home, you little time compared to spend with her children. You more strategy to answer, and Anna – over tactics, taking daily decisions?

– Anna we have – for love, for affection to the children, and I – for life, for the organization. Approximately such proportions. Of course, she has to organize something when I’m not, some part to take, and I a part of love to give to children.

– Giperatidnosti stopping you? In a few interviews he called this quality.

– Something, maybe it helps, but more prevents.

– Hard to delegate?

– Hard to delegate when you know that this is not done the way you want or how it should be in your understanding.

– And so I can only do you?

– Not just me. But of course, it’s hard to find someone who would understand you. Some explain, and still do on another. Either do not understand or you do not explain in a way they would understand. It’s not something someone dull, you just at opposite poles. One man of the earth, the other creative. And not always straightness, clarity of language promotes proper explanation of what you want.

– Tell us an example of when you ran into your giperatidnosti?

– Every day. I have everything should be strictly painted. Schedule of classes the children should be clear and hospitals, and everything else. To do that, to do so to meet to get there. This concerns, primarily, domestic, organisational, family. They are not worth this frustration that I feel. That’s what’s important. But I can’t, I am compelled to respond.

Back to Tanya. When appears in the family of any child with a disability, it changes a lot, from life, way of life, to values, in principle. Sometimes the whole life changes with a baby in a stroller. As you have it flowed? How Tannin disability dictated terms to the family?

– I prefer the term “limited capacity”. “Disability” – the word is repulsive and repellent. It is an ordinary man, with only a few restrictions in terms of movement. All the rest she can do herself.

There is a problem with the movement, and, unfortunately, this slight complication very limits of human life, in society and in many other ways, because we still have this perception.

In our society, on the street and in cafes is not a lot to see people in wheelchairs. I think people with disabilities often can’t even afford just to walk alone or go somewhere in the room, live the life of an ordinary person. This question is important, and it requires a serious change in the attitude of society to people with disabilities.

But back to your question, technically, nothing has changed. We have a lot of kids, we were always strollers. If to go somewhere, we take the same stroller on hand. Still handle it. And then it will be possible to consider some sort of electric wheelchair to move around, to make it easier. This will help in self-mobility.

In my opinion, it’s important to feel the freedom. “I want to go out” – go. Left the teenager and went to take a walk. We stopped in a cafe drinking a Cup of tea, sat and watched, feeling the same as everyone else. This is very important.

– Tanya limitations calmly going through?

– Worthy. She has a very good character, she’s good. Sometimes it hurt, to which she responds very well. Tanya such as flint. Most importantly, she knows that her love, support. It gives her extra strength. And we’re trying to find Hobbies in which the girl succeeded. Something that she likes. In Ufa, she tried climbing before.

– Arms?

– Yes, hands, and her hands are very strong. Tanya likes to swim, she goes to the pool. Now she expressed a desire to play the piano. We were told that she has good data. Need her energy spent, she is a very energetic child.

– Hurt someone outside the family?


– Happens in different ways. And outside offend people who don’t have enough education, I guess. And children can hurt in communication with each other. In our family was hurt, when she “drove”.

– Have you noticed such a sharp phrase?

– Yes, I noticed. “Why were you hired?”, “If you weren’t, it would be better”, something else.

– How do you lived? You talked to them or punished?

– Hard, difficult, worried, of course. But all this was far in the past. It was, on the one hand, protective reaction of the child, emotional. On the other hand, and in adult life there are people who just do not know how to control their words. What can control a girl three years when she got hooked, took something or something unpleasant said? Was different.

– How do you influence the choices your children than they will do in life?

– No, I try not to influence completely. I try to support all initiatives. And they themselves choose. Someone ballet now like, someone interested in the music. Athletes yet.

– And if in the monastery someone leaves?

– If someone decides to dedicate themselves to God, to prayer, and it will be a conscious choice, absolutely no. The most important thing is understanding, not an emotional decision. Need awareness of adoption in order to avoid mistakes later. You let the child in 18 years. And what are you going to punish him and to teach life? It is unlikely that he will listen to you. To wait, to endure and to love. Turning away from the child, you’re not helping, that’s for sure.

– You said you won’t listen, what if does not work, need to get up and try again. Whether, when tried, did not work and had to admit defeat?

– I even have my mum with me didn’t argue when I said that in 12 years will go to study in school of the Olympic reserve.

– Was it your decision?

Yes. Actually meant to go to 12 years out of the house one at 180 kilometers. “I want” and all. Even mom didn’t argue. Not to persuade.

Sergei Semak. Photo:

But life has convinced someday? Here you were sure that everything will be yours, you will achieve…

– No, I have no confidence and never did that I’m sure someone will. But I have this setup in my life that I will try to do everything possible to achieve it. I can’t guarantee the end result, but I can guarantee that you will exert all their efforts. I can do that. So, we need to do what we can. In this respect, the aim is, as you go, doing what I can.

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