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Ivica Olic: I still remember all my goals against Spartak, these moments will stay with me for the rest of my life!

Exclusive interview with PFC CSKA former striker, who is celebrating his 41st birthday today.

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Olic moved to PFC CSKA back in 2003 and fans loved him immediately. In the first ten matches of the championship, the striker scored seven goals. In just three years with Army Men, the forward became a champion three times, won the Russian Cup and the Russian Super Cup twice, and won the UEFA Cup in 2005. Fans adored Olic for his dedication, for fighting until the last minute and for his goals. pfc-cska.com talked to the former striker, who is currently working as an assistant coach in the Croatian national team.

— Ivica, happy birthday to you! How are you going to celebrate?
— I was at the training camp with the Croatian national team for two weeks, we played two important games in the Nations League, so I could not see my family. I just returned home to Hamburg yesterday, so I will spend my 41st birthday only with my closest people. This is not an anniversary, so I will not organize anything special.

— All PFC CSKA fans also congratulate you. Despite the fact that you played for our club relatively long time ago, you are still loved and remembered.
— I appreciate that! Our feelings are mutual. I watched the second half of yesterday's match against Spartak. I am very happy about the victory! What is most important is PFC CSKA to win all the derbies!

— Were you rooting particularly for Nikola Vlasic?
— Sure! I try to watch as many PFC CSKA matches as possible. I see that Nikola is in great shape, scoring a lot and delivering assists. I am very happy to see that PFC CSKA has become active in the transfer market again and signed several top-quality and expensive players. In recent years, except for Vlasic transfer, the club was not so active. I am sure that it will help the team to be at the top of the table.

— How do you think, will PFC CSKA fight for the championship?
— If the players who have just arrived adapt quickly and become a real strength, PFC CSKA will be one of the main contenders for the championship.

— I am sure that you talked to Vlasic when he was in the national team. What did he tell you about PFC CSKA?
— He said that he was happy with everything in the team, including his physical form. Nikola is now the main young player in the Croatian national team. Vlasic wants to help the club return to the Champions League, he is very ambitious. He just told me that PFC CSKA made top-quality transfers and is now ready to lead the Russian championship again. I think Nikola will stay in PFC CSKA for another year or two and will become the best player of the championship in Army Men team.

Watching him in the national team, I am absolutely sure that he has a huge potential. Perhaps in a few years he will move to the top league and shine there. But he has not said his final word in PFC CSKA yet.

— There is another Croat in PFC CSKA — Kristijan Bistrovic.
— To be honest, I heard about him for the first time when he moved to PFC CSKA! He has made the right choice, moving from a small club to a grand one. Thus, he progressed very quickly. I think he also will be playing at the highest level in a year or two.

— There are many talented players in Croatia. Who else do you advise the PFC CSKA scouts to take a close look at?
— One of them, Nikola Moro, has already been signed by Dynamo, he is talented and he is claiming to play in the national team in the future. I advise PFC CSKA to pay attention to Josko Gvardiol. However, he already has offers from England and Germany, although he had about five top-level matches. It is said that 28 million euros have already been offered for him, although he is only 18 years old. He is very talented defender.

— You said that you watched the match with Spartak yesterday. Which derby you played in comes to your mind first?
— I must say that the matches against Spartak are special games every time. Derbies are the most memorable matches I have had in Russia. I still remember all four goals I scored against Spartak, as if it was yesterday. I forgot all others, but I still remember these ones (laughs). These moments will stay with me for the rest of my life.

— I know that you have been invited to the VEB Arena several times, but you have never been to our new stadium before.
— When I came to Moscow with the national team for the World Cup, the first thing I did was go to see the new stadium. I did not get inside, but I saw how it is built, how it looks from the outside. When I played for PFC CSKA, we did not have our own arena. It is extremely important to have your own stadium, and I am very happy that the fans and the players have their own home.

If it was not for the coronavirus pandemic, I am sure that I would have already watched a match there. Now I am waiting for all travel restrictions to be lifted so that I can come and admire the arena from the inside.

— You have been working as an assistant in the national team for three years. Do you want to work on your own?
— The problem is my coaching license. In Croatia you need to study three and a half years to get the required category for independent work. I have to finish my training before Euro 2021, and then we will see. But I am happy with my work in the Croatian national team. We have achieved good results with the team. We have a lot of young players like Nikola. I will definitely stay in the national team until the end of the Euro, and then we will see.

— Will you consider offers from Russia?
— When I moved to Russia as a player 16 years ago, it was a success for me. That team was one of the best in its history. So many years have passed, and I still remember that wonderful period, we won a lot of trophies, including the UEFA Cup. Many years later, I returned to Russia with the national team and reached the World Cup final with it. Russia is a successful country for me. So, my answer to your question is yes!

— What can you wish PFC CSKA and its fans?
— I am very happy that this year PFC CSKA again shows its ambitions in the fight for the championship. Therefore, I wish the team to become a champion this season. I want to thank the fans for supporting the team and for their love!

Pavel Gurevich
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