French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane to promote St. Petersburg

October 18, 2016 Alexey Mosko, RBTH
The 1998 FIFA World Cup champion, who recently visited St. Petersburg for a weekend break, has become a hospitality ambassador for Russia's northern capital. What other star coaches could follow the example of Zidane?
Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid's coach Zinedine Zidane attends a news conference prior to a training session for a selection of U14 players of the Canton de Vaud in Lausanne, Switzerland, October 3, 2016. Source: Reuters

"Deux jours magnifiques à Saint Petersburg": A picture of Zinedine Zidane and his wife against the background of the Winter Palace, which was posted by the legendary French footballer on Monday, Oct. 10 has caused quite a sensation on Instagram.

Russian fans did not know that the 1998 world champion, who is now the head coach of Real Madrid, had come to Russia for a weekend break, and lamented in their comments that they were not able to see the legend of football in person. Zidane himself was tight-lipped about the visit: From his Instagram photo report, you could only say that the Frenchman visited the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theater.

The details of the soccer star's Russian trip did not become known until Oct. 13, when the 2018 FIFA World Cup's official tourism portal (Welcome 2018) reported ( that Zidane has become a hospitality ambassador for St. Petersburg.

At the same time, according to the head of St. Petersburg's Tourism Committee, Andrei Mushkarev, Zidane will not be the only celebrity to promote the Russian northern capital: The city plans to bring in another 10 such ambassadors before the end of the year.

While we can only guess as to who will be on this list, RBTH believes these stars from the world of senior football would be ideal ambassadors for other Russian cities.

Sir Alex Ferguson – Moscow

Alex Fergusonю / Source: ReutersAlex Fergusonю / Source: Reuters

In 27 years at the helm of Manchester United, the legendary Scot has accumulated a lot of memories to come up with his own top 10 most epic matches.

And one of them would definitely be the 2008 thriller in Moscow, where, in the pouring rain, after a series of penalties, the Red Devils snatched victory from Chelsea in the final of the Champions League. After that Moscow has every reason to count on Sir Alex's favor.

Jose Mourinho – Samara

Jose Mourinho / Source: ReutersJose Mourinho / Source: Reuters

Manchester United's current boss Jose Mourinho has his own memories of Russia, too. In 2008, the Portuguese's then football club, Internazionale of Milan, signed a partnership deal with Russia's Krylya Sovetov Samara (around 650 miles southeast of Moscow). The then coach of the club from the banks of the Volga, Leonid Slutsky (who led the Russian team at Euro 2016), received very positive comments from the Inter coach.

The story goes that Mourinho really wanted to fly to Samara to familiarise himself with Slutsky's tactics. But the trip eventually fell through. Perhaps the Portuguese should carve out a little time and go to the Volga?

Guus Hiddink, Samuel Eto'o and Roberto Carlos – Makhachkala

Guus Hiddink / Source: PhotoXPressGuus Hiddink / Source: PhotoXPress

The capital of Dagestan – a Caucasian republic within Russia – is unlikely to be found on a list of fashionable travel destinations, but Guus Hiddink, for example, could say a lot about this exotic region. It was he who coached the local club FC Anzhi in 2012-2013 when businessman Suleiman Kerimov gathered a whole constellation of stars there. The two brightest of them, Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o and Brazilian Roberto Carlos, could vividly describe the Caucasian flavor and local traditions, too. 

Josep Guardiola – Kazan

Josep Guardiola / Source: APJosep Guardiola / Source: AP

The Catalan tactical genius certainly remembers his trips to Kazan in 2009-2010, because it was the local club FC Rubin that sucked a lot of blood from his Barcelona team. Three times in a row, Messi and company proved unable to win against the well-organized Kazan footballers in Champions League group matches.

And if seven years ago, Guardiola was too immersed in football affairs to see the local beauty, why not catch up now?

Read more: How much is Russia spending on building stadiums for the 2018 World Cup?

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