Chris Samba’s move to Russia proven to be right decision

When Christopher Samba announced that he was due to move from Premier League side Blackburn Rovers to relatively unknown but recently wealthy Russian Premier League outfit Anzhi Makhachkala he was heavily criticised on all fronts. Those critics have been forced to eat a huge slice of humble pie since.


There were those who claimed Samba only moved for the money as he would see his weekly wage sky-rocket to around £100,000 per week. Steve Kean at the time called for Samba to “respect the club” and honour his contract to stay with the chaotic Rovers, who were then languishing at the bottom of the Premier League. Samba himself even felt the need to defend his actions coming out strongly and defiantly, pointing out to everybody that the club had potential to reach the highest level of European competition and naming current players Roberto Carlos, Yuri Zhirkov and Samuel Eto’o in a bid to legitimise his move. Certainly legendary manager Guus Hiddink must also have played a role in convincing Samba his future lied within Eastern Europe.


Samba could not have chosen a better club. Firstly he was certainly right to criticise the club that had promised so much to him but delivered so little. For all the criticisms of him dis-respecting the club, Samba had spent a total of 5 years playing for Blackburn Rovers and produced performance after performance during that time. Blackburn, under the ownership of Venky’s became a national laughing stock and the pressure and protests at every home match must not have been a welcoming environment for a footballer to produce a performance of Premier League quality.


Anzhi on the other hand oozed ambition in a rapidly developing league. Fast forward to October and Anzhi currently sit top of the league following an impressive 2-0 victory away to Dinamo Moscow. They are also impressing on the European stage taking 4 points from their opening two games against Udinese and Young Boys. Having acquired the likes of Lassana Diarra who made over a century of appearances for Real Madrid over the summer the future has never looked better. Blackburn on the other hand currently sit outside the play-off positions in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League and are once again in disarray and without a manager following the departure of Steve Kean.


On the pitch Samba has proven that taking the chance to move to the Russian Premier league was in fact a step up and not a step down based on the inflation of his wage packet. However the events of 17 March provided an upsetting experience for Samba as he was the subject of racist abuse, including the throwing of a banana aimed towards him in a match against Lokomotiv Moscow. Recent events, hearings and court cases in England reflect the disgusting fact that racism has not yet been kicked out of the game. Russia’s past may have placed a bigger spotlight on those events but racism is a universal problem that can appear from an idiotic minority of fans in any country, in any culture. Samba himself admitted that he would not allow those events to spoil his enjoyable time in Russia claiming that they are no different to racist abuse he has suffered in other countries.


On the whole those who criticised Samba for his greedy motives must take stock and realise that Anzhi are a growing force not only in Russia but on the European stage. Anzhi’s double clash against Liverpool in their Europa League group will provide not only a stiff test for the Reds but will be proof, no matter what team is put out by Brendan Rodgers, that Russia is fast catching up with the best in the business.


Tomos Llewellyn