President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends,
What can I say? Well done! Quite simply, well done!
I am genuinely happy to have this chance to meet with you and congratulate you on your marvellous victory. I hope this victory will become a turning point in Russian football’s development. Once again, a Russian club has won the UEFA Cup, one of European football’s most prestigious trophies. You won this Cup in a competition full of interest and beautiful moments. The whole country was watching and feeling all the emotion. You defeated strong and worthy opponents.
This match has united not just Zenit’s fans. Football fans throughout Russia, throughout our vast country, were behind you and believed in you. This is a triumphant moment for Russian football.
I want to say a separate thanks to Zenit’s chief trainer, Mr Advocaat. You have taken people representing the most diverse range of schools and made of them a real team in which each player is in tune with his partner. The clear proof is in the result we have now. It is in large part thanks to your experience and talent that Zenit became Russian champion last year and that it has started this year by winning the UEFA Cup.
Three years ago, the UEFA Cup was won by a Russian team for the first time in the history of Russian football. Your victory comes as another sign of how our clubs are growing. Sports infrastructure is also developing fast and, most important of all, probably, young talent is emerging and schools for children and teenagers are opening – in short, all we hoped for in the 1990s.
Football is clearly one of the most popular sports in our country (we might not be Brazil, but all the same), and Zenit’s success is an important step in developing the game in Russia. I want once again to thank the trainers and all the players for this wonderful victory that you have given Russia. We are very proud of you. I want to thank you once more too for the emotions you have given us, for the feeling of pride in Russian football. I wish you good luck and all the very best.