Two years ago goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin was a rock in Azerbaijan's superb run to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 semi-finals as tournament debutants. Now aged 44, Tveryankin is still at the heart of coach Alesio's squad and, as they plot their way past Portugal and Serbia in Group D in Croatia, Tveryankin tells UEFA.com that Azerbaijan will be just as dangerous now they are no longer an unknown quantity.
UEFA.com: How far can Azerbaijan go?
Andrey Tveryankin: Azerbaijan can repeat the result of 2010. We are strong enough to do it, but only the tournament will show. We will be at our usual level at the very least.
UEFA.com: Nobody knew much about Azerbaijan when you reached the semi-finals in 2010. Can you build on that experience?
Tveryankin: That championship helped us so much back then, but we know we will not be regarded as "just another team" any more. Saying that, the experience of just one EURO isn't much.
UEFA.com: What was the highlight of the tournament for you in 2010?
Tveryankin: The [quarter-final] victory against Ukraine who are really very strong opponents. You remember such wins and they give you more confidence.
UEFA.com: You will be one of the oldest players at EURO, if not the oldest. How long do you plan to continue playing?
Tveryankin: I'm going to play as long as my health allows. Much depends on the decision of the coaches and management. Some people are afraid of the date of birth in my passport. But they trust in me in Azerbaijan and this means a lot. It's true what they say – it's people who play and not passports.
UEFA.com: What inspires you most about the Azerbaijan national team?
Tveryankin: The team is writing national history right now and I'm proud to be part of it. I have reached the level I always dreamed about and got the opportunity to achieve my goals in sport.
UEFA.com: Does it help that the backbone of the team plays for Araz Naxçivan?
Tveryankin: It's a great advantage. You gain a lot from team chemistry. The human factor also helps a lot, as we have a very friendly squad at Araz and this transmits to the national side.
UEFA.com: What are the strengths of Serbia and Portugal?
Tveryankin: A never-say-die attitude for Serbia and high quality in both individual and team play for Portugal.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to take part in another EURO?
Tveryankin: It's a big moment in my career. One that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
UEFA.com: You lost against Spain in qualifying. What makes them so strong?
Tveryankin: They have a great team and it is nice to play against them. They like to play and let their opponents play too.
UEFA.com: Why do Spain dominate European national team futsal?
Tveryankin: They have great individuals – more than two teams' worth – a strong national league and good team play.
UEFA.com: What do you like most about futsal?
Tveryankin: The passion, the excitement and the highs and lows.
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