FC Rubin Kazan have risen from the second tier of Russian football to become European regulars since Kurban Berdyev took charge in 2001, and the man behind their stunning progress told UEFA.com they can enhance their profile even further.
Berdyev steered the side from Tatarstan to the top flight for the first time in 2002, and they quickly took to their new surroundings, finishing third in their maiden season of 2003. Proving that debut campaign was no fluke, Berdyev then oversaw Premier-Liga title wins in 2008 and 2009, before adding the Russian Cup in 2012. It has been a thrilling journey, with Berdyev instrumental at every step of the way.
"I've been involved in many aspects of the making of the club, not only myself but also the management here," the 61-year-old said. "We've undertaken a lot of work. In the years since we started with Rubin, Rubin have become recognisable in Europe. Rubin have won two championships, the Super Cup [in 2010 and 2012] and the cup. Those results show the great efforts of both the management and the entire football staff."
Surely no result announced their presence on the football map more than their superb 2-1 win away to FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League in October 2009, though last season they made another significant stride by reaching the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. Back in that competition this term, they hope to continue turning heads across the continent.
"With regards to the philosophy, we would like Rubin to be recognisable in Europe, but for that we still need to work a lot," said Berdyev, who nonetheless feels lessons learned in their previous tilts will serve them well. "We've become more experienced in Europe, and that experience helps us spread our workload more evenly between the domestic championship and the European competitions.
"There's a certain small advantage there," continued the Turkmenistani technician. "But we are now creating a new team and new players are coming in. The squad is gradually being rejuvenated. So there are certain issues, but our vision for the future is clear."
The key to success this time depends initially on Rubin navigating their way through UEFA Europa League Group D, where they are up against NK Maribor, SV Zulte Waregem and Wigan Athletic FC. "There are no weak opponents – that is clear," explained Berdyev, whose side opened their bid with a 5-2 victory at Maribor and welcome Zulte Waregem next Thursday.
It may be a "difficult group" according to the man in the dugout, but Berdyev cannot but help dream of matching domestic rivals PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Zenit, both of whom have won the competition since he took over at Rubin.
"Certainly, that is an obvious goal," he said. "But you mustn't forget that those clubs have a long history, so they have better qualified players and high-quality and very strong coaches. But, nevertheless, we are following the same targets as last year."
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