England face Russia in their Euro 2016 opener.

The 5 best ever Russia internationals to play in the Premier League

Published 2 Comments

While David Bentley remains the only Englishman to ever play in the Russian Premier League, it is an entirely different story when it comes to Russians playing in the English Premier League.

And as the two nations prepare to lock horns once again at Euro 2016, it is fascinating to look back at some of the notable Russian internationals who have thrived and survived in the English top-flight.

From a Chelsea journeyman to a Manchester United double-winner and with an Arsenal four-goal hero in between – here are five of the best Russia internationals to ever grace the Premier League.


Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article:

Article continues below

5. Alexey Smertin – Chelsea, Portsmouth, Charlton & Fulham

Brought to Stamford Bridge by Claudio Ranieri for £3.45m in 2003, Smertin was never a first team regular for the Blues but still carved out a solid career in England.

Immediately loaned to Portsmouth, the Russian played a pivotal role in helping Harry Redknapp's side steer clear of relegation during their first season in the Premier League.

Having returned to Chelsea the following year, Smertin played a part in the club's first Premier League title success, earning a medal in the process before moving to Charlton on loan the following season where he also starred.

Brought back to England from Dinamo Moscow by Fulham in 2008, Smertin started well at the Cottagers before injury and the arrival of Danny Murphy saw him leave the club a year later.

Article continues below

4. Roman Pavlyuchenko – Tottenham Hotspur

Brought to White Hart Lane from Spartak Moscow for £13.7 million after impressing at Euro 2008, Pavlyuchenko scored 14 times in his debut season with Spurs, including six in the League Cup.

Despite being mostly deployed as an impact sub from late 2009 onwards, Pavlychenko reached double figures for goals in his next two full seasons and even had a better minutes to goals ratio than Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Rafael Van Der Vaart during the 2010/11 campaign.

A regular contributor of crucial goals both domestically and in the Champions League against Young Boys and later Inter Milan, Pavlyuchenko moved on to Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2012 amid rumours of a bust-up with Tottenham coach Kevin Bond.

3. Andrey Arshavin – Arsenal

Arshavin's Arsenal career may be tinged with disappointment for many but the former Zenit St Petersburg playmaker still showed flashes of the brilliance witnessed at Euro 2008.

The undoubted highlight came in April 2009, when a sensation four-goal haul in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool put the Russian on the Premier League map, while also denting the Reds' title hopes.

Arsenal v Coventry City - Capital One Cup Third Round

A return of 12 goals and six assists in the 2009/10 campaign was impressive enough but it was during the 2010/11 season that Arshavin really hit his stride with 10 goals and 17 assists including a memorable winner for the Gunners against Barcelona at the Emirates in a 2-1 victory.

It was all downhill from there though with a loss of form and fitness resulting in less game time, a loan move back to Zenit and his eventual release in the summer of 2013 with Arshavin noting how his spell out of the team had been “psychologically difficult.”

2. Dmitri Kharine – Chelsea

Something of a trend-setter, having moved to the Premier League long before the era of Roman Abramovich, Kharine cost Chelsea just £400,000 from CSKA Moscow in the summer of 1992.

Impressive during the Blues' run to the 1994 FA Cup final and in the subsequent season's European Cup Winners' Cup campaign, which saw Chelsea reach the semi-finals, Kharine's fine club form helped him maintain his position as Russia's first choice goalkeeper.

A starter throughout the 1994 World Cup and Euro '96, injury saw Kharine miss out on the 1997 FA Cup final with manager Gianluca Vialli eventually moving to install Ed De Goey as first-choice Chelsea goalkeeper.

Kharine moved on to an injury-hit, ill-fated spell at Celtic under John Barnes before turning out for non-league Hornchurch prior to his retirement.

1. Andrei Kanchelskis – Manchester United, Everton, Manchester City & Southampton

Arguably one of Sir Alex Ferguson's best signings, the Ukraine-born Kanchelskis arrived for £650,000 from Shakhtar Donetsk late in the 1990-91 season but took time to settle, eventually coming into his own during the 1992-93 campaign.

Brought in to add some pace and width to the United midfield, Kanchelskis played an import role in helping end the club's title drought in 1993.


The next season saw the Russian cost United the League Cup – he was sent off for a handball in a 3-1 final defeat to Aston Villa – but he recovered to play a crucial part in Manchester United's Premier League and FA Cup double.

Despite ending the 1994/95 campaign as United's top scorer with 15 goals in 32 games, a rift with Ferguson saw Kanchelskis transferred to Everton the following summer.

He followed that up with 16 goals in his debut season at Goodison Park, helping the club achieve a top six finish before moving to Fiorentina for £8 million in January 1997.

Spells with Rangers, Manchester City and Southampton followed but Kanchelskis would never quite hit the same heights again.

Do you agree with our countdown? Let us know what you think in the comment box below

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

Thierry Henry
Manchester United
Euro 2016
England Football
Premier League
David Beckham

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again