UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Garay enjoying Russian journey with Zenit

FC Zenit defender Ezequiel Garay tells UEFA.com about his first experience of the Russian winter, playing as a striker in his youth and his favourite football memory.

Ezequiel Garay left Benfica to join André Villas-Boas at Zenit
Ezequiel Garay left Benfica to join André Villas-Boas at Zenit ©AFP/Getty Images

Having enjoyed the climate of his native Argentina and the warm weather during spells in Spain and Portugal, Ezequiel Garay joined FC Zenit last summer – a move which means he has experienced the Russian winter for the first time.

The 28-year-old defender signed for the Zenitchiki from SL Benfica after reaching back-to-back UEFA Europa League finals – suffering defeats by Chelsea FC in 2013 and Sevilla FC in 2014 – and helping the Portuguese side to their first-ever domestic treble last season. Former Real Racing Club and Real Madrid CF centre-back Garay was also part of the Argentina team that lost the 2014 FIFA World Cup final to Germany.

UEFA.com: How have you coped with the winter?

Ezequiel Garay:
I don't think I've ever experienced a climate quite like this. I had already played in such conditions, but I've never lived in such a cold country. You simply battle against it by wrapping up warm and putting on a nice warm hat.

UEFA.com: What's the best thing about living in Russia?

I like everything here, as does my wife. We can't see any negative sides to the city [St Petersburg] or even the climate. I don't think the cold has prevented my wife and me from being very happy here in this spectacular city.

UEFA.com: After playing in Spain and Portugal, what are the distinguishing features of Russian football?

In Spain they let you play a bit more than in Portugal. But the Russian league is very difficult because teams play in a [defensive] way against Zenit and that makes it very difficult. So it's a difficult and competitive league.

UEFA.com: You've played in the UEFA Europa League final twice with Benfica and lost twice. How does that affect your motivation to succeed with Zenit?

It doesn't affect me. I enjoyed those finals, one against Chelsea and the other against Sevilla. It's something I will never forget – for what we achieved by reaching those finals, which is not easy at all.

UEFA.com: Who are your best friends at Zenit? Who's the biggest joker?

Given that I don't speak English or Russian, I get on better with the players who communicate in Spanish and Portuguese. The biggest jokers in our group, because they're the people I spend the most time with, are the Italian 'Mimmo' [Domenico Criscito], [José] Rondón and [Luís] Neto.

UEFA.com: You were a striker very early in your career. What insight did you gain to help you as a central defender?

Garay: Yes, I played as a striker when I was young and even though it's a different position it helped me a lot, because you know what a striker will do when he makes certain moves. 

UEFA.com: What is your favourite footballing memory so far?

I guess that is obvious: making it to the final of the World Cup, that's just something you can't explain if you haven't made it [to a final]. Unfortunately we lost the final, but that was my nicest memory.

Selected for you