Despite the language barrier and "incredible traffic", FC Spartak Moskva's Aiden McGeady tells UEFA.com he has found a second home in Moscow and a kindred spirit in Valeri Karpin.
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Signed from Celtic FC last August for a fee reported to be the highest ever involving a Scottish club, Aiden McGeady has adapted well to life at FC Spartak Moskva. With his new team finishing fourth in Russia's Premier League as well as third in UEFA Champions League Group F to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32, McGeady is hungry for more. The Republic of Ireland winger, 24, talked to UEFA.com about life on and off the pitch in the Russian capital.
UEFA.com: How have you found Moscow since you moved to Spartak?
Aiden McGeady: I've enjoyed it. It's a little bit different from living in Glasgow – it's a much bigger city. But it's a great life experience for me.
UEFA.com: What's the most exciting thing you have found for yourself?
McGeady: The everyday things are pretty exciting for me, moving to a new city, a very, very big, cosmopolitan city, with lots to do. It's not just one thing in particular, the city so far has excited me in general.
UEFA.com: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in adapting to life in Russia?
McGeady: The main barrier is the language. Of course, not everyone here speaks English, but you have a couple of players who can, who I can communicate with. I would like to be able to speak Russian. I'm going to get some lessons because I like to be able to interact with my team-mates, and it's difficult sometimes. The biggest problem has been trying to get my point across on the pitch.
UEFA.com: Is Moscow different from what you expected?
McGeady: Yes, but in a good way. I'd been to Moscow twice before, but both times were passing visits with Celtic. We played Spartak and Dinamo in Champions League qualifiers. The main thing I encountered on both trips was the traffic in Moscow. It's incredible traffic – you can be sitting in a traffic jam for two and a half hours and it's normal for everyone. That was something I've never experienced before.
UEFA.com: What has your experience of the Russian Premier League taught you about the style of Russian football?
McGeady: It's totally different to what I'm used to. It's a very technical game. A lot of teams we play at home sit back and wait for us to attack them, so you have time on the ball. It's not what I'm used to – when you receive the ball and there's someone pressing you straight away. But I've enjoyed it so far – I've played in some big games. Since I came, the team has done well so it's been enjoyable. This season we've got a strong squad and hopefully we can pick up where we left off because fourth place isn't where Spartak should be – Spartak should be first.
UEFA.com: How far are Spartak from teams like FC Zenit St Petersburg and PFC CSKA Moskva?
McGeady: I don't think far at all because we beat Zenit last season. We should've beaten CSKA as well, 1-0 up after an hour, and then we just collapsed. We drew 1-1 with Rubin, and I think that's a game we should've won. The main thing with Zenit is their consistency over the whole season. They only lost two games, they just continued winning and winning, and that's something we have to do – not just play well against the big teams but the smaller teams as well. That was our downfall last season – we dropped a lot of points in games we really should have been winning.
UEFA.com: How did it feel to be in the UEFA Champions League group stage?
McGeady: It started very well for us, beating Marseille and Žilina. The two games against Chelsea were obviously difficult, but the big game was Marseille back at Luzhniki. All we had to do was draw, and instead we lost 3-0. That was very, very disappointing because that was our chance to go through – and we blew it.
UEFA.com: What impression has your coach [Valeri Karpin] had on you so far and how would you describe his philosophy?
McGeady: His football philosophy is one I enjoy being involved in, because he's also played in Spain and was a very successful player himself. He's been around the world and the way he likes to play football is the way I like to play football. He likes everyone to get the ball down and pass forward with purpose. He likes to have technical players in his team, players who are all comfortable on the ball – and that's quite refreshing.
UEFA.com: What do you make of the Luzhniki Stadium and how do you think opponents view the venue?
McGeady: I don't know how opponents see it, but I enjoy playing there, especially when there's a big crowd. It's a massive stadium with a very good atmosphere. It's almost like a second home now.