Yuri Semin told uefa.com that part of his soul is at FC Lokomotiv Moskva after leaving his job as coach of Ukrainian titlewinners FC Dynamo Kyiv to have another crack at the Russian Premier-Liga with the Railway Boys.
The 62-year-old coach has been involved with Loko in one capacity or another for over 20 years, leading them to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-finals in 1998 and 1999 and finally taking their first domestic titles in 2002 and 2004. Semin left the club for a spell as Russia coach, and was then in charge of FC Dinamo Moskba – who, like Loko, he had represented as a player – before becoming Loko's president and then taking Dynamo to the UEFA Cup semi-finals and another title. However, he decided to come back to Lokomotiv on 1 June.
uefa.com: Do you feel that you have come back home?
Yuri Semin: Yes. I spent most of my coaching career here. We came a long way from the second tier to the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup semifinal and UEFA Champions League knockout stages. Part of my soul is at Lokomotiv. It was very difficult to leave as big a club as Dynamo Kyiv, especially after we won the title and played in a UEFA Cup semi-final, and I had a great relationship with the team and management. However, I made my decision because working at Lokomotiv gives me a chance to move home and work in my favourite place. It is also a challenge for me - to leave champions and to join a team which has not been in Europe for a few years.
uefa.com: Fans in Kiev were keen for you to stay.
Semin: They are used to winning and I'm happy that I didn't disappoint them. The hardest thing was to leave the players, who had worked hard and made progress. Lokomotiv is a new step as only three of the players I worked with four years ago are still there - Dmitri Sychev, Dmitri Sennikov and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
uefa.com: Lokomotiv are aiming for a top-three finish. Can they do it?
Semin: That's hard to say. We are not in a very good position [ninth in the 16-team table]. We have two important players injured – Dmitri Torbinski and Bilyaletdinov. At the moment this goal is too high for us, but we will try.
uefa.com: Renat Yanbayev was the only Lokmotiv player in the Russia squad for the game against Finland. Is that disappointing?
Semin: That's because we are ninth at the moment. When you are not winning, players regress, and when that goes on for a long time, a big team transforms into a medium-sized one. Lokomotiv cannot sink to this level as we have great infrastructure and a fine sponsor - Russian Railways.
uefa.com: When do you think you will be able to fight for the title again?
Semin: We have to set the highest goals every season and work towards them in an orderly way. When all our playing lines are balanced, when we buy or develop a leader for every line on the field, then we will be able to win gold medals.
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