By Ian Oland
Alex Ovechkin signed a one-day contract with Dynamo Moscow and made his international soccer debut on Saturday against Amkal, a group of social media soccer stars. In 11 minutes for the Russian Premier League team, Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal, absolutely bodied an opposing player, and won 100% of his duels in the friendly.
Clips of Ovechkin’s highlights went viral across the world — landing on sports media behemoth Sportsnet. There was so much interest in Ovechkin/Dynamo soccer merch afterward that Dynamo’s online team store went down for hours due to too many requests. Physically at the stadium, the team store sold Ovechkin Dynamo shirts that mimicked his jersey.
Ovechkin, for his part, seemed thrilled by the entire experience, taking to Instagram the day after to express his joy for living out a childhood dream.
“Thank you so much @fcdynamo for making my dream come true to play for my home club!” Ovechkin wrote in Russian and translated by Google Translate. “These are unforgettable emotions for me, my family and friends! I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
Ovechkin scored, but it was not due to the other team laying down and letting it happen. That’s what made finding the back of the net all the more thrilling of a personal experience for the legendary hockey player.
There were other challenges, too.
Ovechkin admitted during a Match TV interview that while he didn’t have any butterflies before the game, he was concerned about the current state of his conditioning. Ovechkin and his family returned from a beach resort in Turkey to participate in the friendly.
“I was more worried about the fact that now we are on vacation,” Ovechkin said. “How will I feel physically? And already at the warm-up, I realized that it would be hard.”
When asked what he tried to accomplish on the pitch as the team’s leader, Ovechkin replied that his goal personally was to “try not to die.”
Ovechkin persevered through his lack of wind, scoring from his office to make it 1-0 early in the game. Taking a back pass, Ovechkin booted the ball with his left foot to the far corner of the net, beating Amkal’s diving goalie. The commentators, not expecting this historic moment to happen, began screaming in excitement when they realized Ovi had scored.
Alexander Ovechkin scores in his debut with FC Dynamo Moscow. Of course he does. 🔥 #DynamoMoscow ⚽️ #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ZjSR4xdz7k
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) June 25, 2022
A grinning Ovechkin did his best Cristiano Ronaldo imitation, by jumping high into the air and raising both of his arms to the heavens as Blur’s Song 2 played over the loudspeakers.
“Well, the dream came true – to score a goal,” Ovechkin said.
“From the left office, okay!” Ovechkin added during an interview with Dynamo TV. “By the way, (Fyodor) Smolov told me today: ‘We go into the penalty area, open up – and I give you a left hand.’ The link worked.”
Immediately after scoring, Ovechkin subbed out for Danya Forbin at the 11 minute mark drenched in sweat. “It was very hot,” he said. “I had to douse myself with water. Heat, stuffiness.”
The tally was the only goal scored in the first half. Dynamo would go on to win 5-0.
Ovi pointed out later that the goal was historic not just because it was his first as a soccer player.
“Well, let’s count, I have 1-0 with Gretzky,” he observed.
Dynamo Moscow also published a graphic of Ovechkin side-by-side with Ronaldo. The top line showed how many goals each player had in their respective sports (hockey/soccer). The bottom line showed that Ovechkin had one more goal in soccer than Ronaldo had in hockey.
Which one of them is GOAT? 🐐
In our opinion, everything is obvious 😌 pic.twitter.com/0dRa5acL4b
— ФК «Динамо» Москва (@fcdynamo) June 27, 2022
In the National Hockey League, Ovechkin is known as a power forward. Not only does Ovi score in most games, but he also imposes his will on other players with big crunching hits along the boards. It was no different on the soccer pitch.
Amkal’s Mike Krapivnikov tried to challenge Ovechkin as he dribbled the ball up field. Krapivnikov looked child-sized compared to Ovechkin and as the two players colided, Krapivnikov was bodied hard to the grass.
“I predicted a power move, I knew that I would be with him on the flank, and I was preparing for this power move,” Krapivnikov explained to Sport 24. “Either he would catch me or I would catch him flying off.”
And to the joy of us all, Krapivnikov went flying off. He was asked how the hit felt.
“Well, not like a train, but it’s just strong,” he said. “I told him: “Sanya, are you a brick?”… After that, he quickly scored.”
The two also watched the replay on a phone and laughed about it after the game.
“I got into the highlights again!” Ovechkin said.
Back home in DC, Ovechkin is an investor in the Washington Spirit, a National Women’s Soccer League team. He was asked if he would ever join the players on the pitch someday.
“I think that if I use a power move in that match, then I will be given a disqualification for life!” Ovechkin joked.
Dad was proud
Ovechkin wore the number three during the game in honor of his father, Mikhail, who played professional soccer during his adult years. Mikhail attended the game along with Ovechkin’s mother, Tatyana, a two-time gold medal-winning basketball player. Ovechkin’s wife Nastya and his two kids, Sergei and Ilya, tagged along as well as other relatives.
“My father played for Dynamo Moscow and was injured,” Ovechkin said of the tribute. “And today this match was more for him than for me.”
Ovechkin added that “If you really want (a dream) to (happen), then yes. Of course, they do!”
Mikhail was noticeably touched by the tribute, but not necessarily surprised by his son’s overall performance in the game. He agreed when he was asked if it was a dream come true for himself personally.
“We are all happy. And me, and my mother, and all relatives. Yes, this is true happiness!” Mikhail said.
“Today it is a great happiness that Sasha played for the team of masters, I think it will be the winning goal,” Mikhail said during the game. “He went down in history. A talented person is talented in everything. He is very good at playing hockey, football, tennis, table tennis, water polo. God bless.”
Mikhail was then asked if he thought his son could have broken Pelé’s goals record in soccer if he decided to play the sport professionally. “I do not even doubt. That’s for sure,” Mikhail replied.
“My desire is for him to break Gretzky’s record, if these comrades do not interfere,” he added.
Mikhail said that usually his son plays goalie when he plays soccer “so as not to get injured” due to his NHL contract and that was also why he came out so quickly during Saturday’s game. He also worried that if Capitals fans “find out about this [playing for Dynamo] in America, they won’t pat him on the head.”
Mom was proud, too
Tatyana Ovechkina had this to say about Ovechkin’s soccer debut to Match TV.
The moment is very good, beautiful. The most important thing is that the goal was scored not for fun, but for the game. Very good.
Nobody adjusted to Sasha. Maybe someone thinks that they did it on purpose – not at all. Very good goal, I’m happy for him.
Not only is he a striker, he is also a good playmaker. He sees the court well – both in hockey and in football too.
I have said many times that he was a sports guy.
In any sport, of course, he would have achieved a good result. He knows how to play basketball, and tennis, and swims well.
Ovechkin’s special cleats for the game
Ovechkin wore a pair of gold cleats that retails for thousands of dollars — the Nike Tiempo Totti X Roma 2017. The cleats were made to honor Italian soccer legend Francesco Totti and his 25 year anniversary at AS Roma, per Soccer Cleats 101. The cleats were made with a limited edition of 2500 and each pair is numbered on the heel. Ovechkin’s pair was numbered 2123.
Player of the game
After the game, Ovechkin was named the player of the game for scoring the GWG. He was given Dynamo’s prestigious Panama Hat (which is noticeably less dangerous than the Capitals’ viking ax.)
Ovechkin was asked if he would keep the hat.
“Of course,” Ovechkin said to Match TV. “I will save everything! Look, I filled a whole bag with what I collected as a keepsake from this match.”
He added to Dynamo TV that “I am happy that I played, fulfilled my dream. Many thanks to the management, players, coaching staff for the trust. I hope that Dynamo will become the champion this year.”
Asked if he would switch to soccer full time, Ovechkin’s son Sergei answered for him.
“Never!” Ovi Jr said. “Only hockey!”
Screenshot: Dynamo Moscow/Instagram
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.