£18.6m star says Chelsea tried to stop him leaving, but he had already decided


Former Chelsea midfielder Yuri Zhirkov has been discussing his exit from Chelsea and how Andre Villas-Boas may get on in Russia.

Former Chelsea and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has sealed a new managerial post at Zenit St Petersburg, after a short spell out of employment.

As he sets about taking the reins at the Russian club, former Chelsea player Yuri Zhirkov, currently of Dynamo Moscow, has been quizzed about his thoughts on the Portuguese manager.

Zhirkov enjoyed just a brief crossover period with AVB at Chelsea, leaving in the same summer the former Porto coach arrived; but says the new Zenit coach did all he could to convince him to stay and has nothing but praise for him.

The Russian international told newspaper Izvestia: "Andre is a very open, sociable person. The players of Zenit  will have no problems. He knows many languages ​​and easily communicates with all its players.

"I remember when I expressed a desire to get away from the Chelsea, he held a long conversation with me. He said that understood and tried to discourage me. But at that time I had already decided on the further development of my career."

Zhirkov signed for Chelsea for £18.6 million in 2009, a fee still a Premier League record for a Russian player. His best position as a left-wing-back meant that with Chelsea not regularly switching from four at the back, Ashley Cole was always first choice, while he wasn't the best choice from an attacking perspective in left midfield either - and Carlo Ancelotti's diamond formation in midfield meant he did not fit.

Now 30, he believes former coach AVB will be a success in Russia after tricky spells in England with Chelsea and Spurs:

"Boas made on me a very good impression. He has a very interesting, varied training process. Also, I would note his attitude. He is a very responsible person, who lives football 24 hours a day. I can only congratulate Zenit on the good appointment."

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