Spartak Moscow, Russia’s most successful club, are one of two Russian Premier League teams that have a ‘B’ team operating in the FNL. Spartak-2 Moscow, as they’re called, have some of the best players of the league on their books. Due to the professional nature of the league, it serves as good competition for young players to thrive in and improve themselves.
What differentiates Spartak-2 from the rest of the FNL is their diverse squad, which has players from seven different countries. Most second division sides are filled with local players, so this is quite an achievement. One of the foreign stars the team has is Liberia’s very own Sylvanus Nimely.
Capped eight times by the Liberian national team, the 21-year-old striker joined Spartak in 2017 and has since then been a mainstay in the B-team. Starting his career off at Club Breweries in his home country, Sylvanus moved to Czech outfit MFK Karvina. Since signing for the Moscow club, Nimely has scored 20 times and assisted 13 goals in 93 appearances for the second team. His first senior appearance for the club came in the 18/19 season when he came on as a substitute and played 33 minutes. The marksman, as mentioned before, is also an active Liberian international, and made his debut against Zimbabwe in June 2017.
Observer Sports desk in partnership with Indian Sports Journalist Hanu Trived had a chance to exclusively interview Sylvanus about his career, future ambitions, and Liberian football.
Q: You’ve been at Spartak Moscow for a while now. How has your experience been, and what are you aiming for at the club?
A: Yes, that’s correct. I’ve been here for over three years now and it has been a very helpful time with a lot of memorable moments. My goals as a footballer are always to reach the maximum. The season just restarted, but the coronavirus situation came and the league has stopped. I am staying focused, training hard, and I am very positive about what the future holds for me.
Q: You also played in the Czech Republic for a little while. How was your experience there, and how is the football there compared to Russia?
A: Yes, I played at MFK Karvina at the U19 level, making one senior appearance in the cup. These are two different levels; there is a big difference between the U19 level and the Russian first division. The level that I’m playing at right now is more difficult and advanced. It requires a lot more than youth football does. Despite that, my time in the Czech Republic was amazing. My European journey started there and I will always remember the country.
Q: Your older brother (Alex) is also a professional footballer. Has that fact helped your career as a sportsman?
A: Yes, he is, and I talk to him a lot. He has always been an inspiration and a major source of motivation for me.
Q: What are your short and long term goals as a footballer?
A: For me, as a human being, and a footballer, it is very important to develop and get better and better. I am still young and have learned a lot at Spartak. I want to keep enjoying what I do and keep God first! I also want to make my family, friends, nation, and fans happy and proud.
Q: On a lighter note, who are your best mates at Spartak, and how is the dressing room atmosphere at the club?
A: I am fine with everyone, but I spend most of my time with (Idrisa) Sambu and Thierno (Thioub), because we have all lived together. The atmosphere in the locker room is professional and we are concentrated before each training session and game.
Q: What do you think football in your home country of Liberia needs to improve and reach the next level?
A: We have a lot of very talented and skilled players in Liberia. If they get the chance to showcase themselves from a very young age, it will be helpful and will put Liberia on the global footballing map. We also have the chance to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar; our opponents are Cape Verde, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Our self-belief is strong and our squad has great team spirit, so we believe we can make it.
Q: Who were your inspirations growing up as a footballer?
A: When I grew up I loved watching a lot of football. The president of our country, George Weah, who was the World Player of the Year in 1995 is a role model for me. My late father always talked about him and showed me a lot of videos of Weah’s time as a footballer.
Q: What would be your message to young footballers back home aspiring to become professionals?
A: You need to always work hard, and be professional — on and off the pitch. If you believe in yourself and are ready to make sacrifices, then you can make it to the top. God is first always.