Defender Pāvels Mihadjuks had "never heard" of Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC when the Scottish club showed an interest in him, but is thrilled with the progress he has made since his loan move from FK Ventspils.
Playing abroad is a dream for many Latvian players, but at 28, and with no international caps to his name, Mihadjuks could have been excused for thinking his chance to live that dream had passed. He made just three appearances for Latvia's top side, Ventspils, last season following a move from FK Rīga, but unbeknown to himself had done enough to impress scouts in Scotland. "This is a gift from the fates," Mihadjuks told uefa.com. "I was pretty surprised after I heard about the interest from Inverness. I had heard of Rangers, Celtic and Heart of Midlothian but I had never heard of this club. I was thinking: 'Hey, where on earth am I going to?'"
Mihadjuks has now played six times for the Highlands club, and while Inverness remain rooted to the foot of the 12-team Scottish Premier League, the defender has already scored twice. "My team-mates and the coach [Terry Butcher] have helped me a lot," he said. "When you see the attitude that they have you feel much better, play much better and try to help the team as much as you can."
He was dazzled when he saw replays of his first goal in Scottish football, scored in a 3-2 defeat by Hearts. "I saw it later on TV," he said. "I was amazed, thinking: 'Am I really that guy who scored such a beautiful goal?'" He was also inspired by earning a 0-0 league draw against Celtic: "I was very tired after the final whistle but I enjoyed it. It was a great learning experience."
Mihadjuks is on loan at Inverness for the rest of the season and is determined to do himself justice. Meanwhile, Gary Johnson, the former coach of Latvia who is now in charge of English side Bristol City FC, told uefa.com: "[Mihadjuks] has made a great start in Scotland. The difficult thing is to maintain that standard. He has to work hard: that's his only chance of succeeding in Scotland."
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