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Alexander Hleb
Gender Male
Ethnic Belarusian
Job Belarusian Footballer
Desc Alex Hleb joined Barca for €17m in the summer of 2008 and although he did make a number of first-team appearances for the Catalan club, he did not really play much of a part in the team’s treble triumph that season. The Belarus midfielder had impressed in his three seasons at Arsenal, but his 36 appearances for Barca were quickly forgotten and he failed to score in his time at Camp Nou. He was later loaned to Stuttgart, Birmingham and Wolfsburg - and was last seen in the Russian Premier League

Affiliation

Org Belarusia National Team
Club as Player Krylia Sovetov Samara
  Glenclerbirligi
  BATE Borisov
  Stuttgart FC [loan]
  Barcelona FC
  Arsenal FC
  Stuttgart FC

2009 07 24 Retrieve

[Former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb may hold up Samuel Eto’o’s Inter deal] I have a contract with Barcelona and am currently preparing for the new season with the team. My aim is to make the breakthrough here and be successful with this club

2009 07 30 Retrieve

[Alexander Hleb will not be joining Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan after it was announced that the Belarus midfielder is returning to his former club Stuttgart on a season-long loan] I have opted for VfB (Stuttgart) because the team has great potential and I am convinced that we can achieve a lot together

2010 09 23 Retrieve

[Alexander Hleb quickly realises new club Birmingham City are no Barcelona] It’s different from Barca and Arsenal, this is a different team. Here there is not the same quality from players, people don’t keep the ball as much. Saturday was difficult. We didn’t keep the ball, we didn’t play football. [Against MK Dons] we were scared and didn’t control the ball. We need to learn - we will play against teams that are much better. We need to fight for points. Of course it’s different. I know that. I need to accept this and try to bring my best to this team

2017 05 31 Retrieve

[Alexander Hleb on his time at Stuttgart FC] It was more difficult to settle in my first year at Stuttgart than at any other point in my life. My brother came with me to play for their youth team and lived with me. If he wasn’t with me, I would have gone back to Belarus. At times, I cried. Psychologically, it was so hard, but together we made it easier for each other

[Alexander Hleb regards Arsenal FC as his favourite phase of a life in football] Arsenal was the best time in my career. I was absolutely, 100% happy. I had an unbelievable coach, fantastic friends and amazing team-mates. It was a dream come true

Wenger always supports his players. He feels what young players think. He doesn’t need to come to you and ask, ‘What are you thinking?’ because he already knows. People criticise him, but he’s fantastic. Arsene is Arsenal. Everyone associates the club with Wenger. We all want titles, but every club goes through difficult periods

[Hleb feels that Wenger - whose two-year contract became apparent soon after this interview - deserves at least another full 12 months in the role] I would not touch Wenger until next year. Give him until the end of next season. He can create another title-winning team, I am sure of it. It’s easy to criticise from the sidelines but I don’t see another manager coming to Arsenal and keeping the identity, the beautiful football, which Arsene has brought to the club

[Hleb has answered the question about leaving north London many times. Interestingly, he looks back on the situation with as much regret as the Arsenal fans who were sorry to lose him in 2008] People always ask me why I departed but it’s hard to explain. I don’t know why. I also ask myself why I left

[Despite new manager Pep Guardiola found a winning formula that enabled Barcelona to go on and win a historic treble, Hleb was disillusioned by his lack of opportunities as he played a bit-part role in Barça’s triumphs that season. With brutal honesty, however, he now adopts a different outlook on the situation] Of course I wanted to play every game. Guardiola tried to speak to me about the lack of chances I was getting, saying that there were so many talented players and that he was trying to give everyone an opportunity. At the time, I had problems in my private life, which affected me badly. I didn’t want to listen to him

He tried to give me advice on how to integrate, suggesting I should take Spanish lessons so I could properly communicate with the team. At the time, I thought he was the problem and couldn’t see it from a different point of view. But now I can say that it was me. I was the problem. If I’d done everything Guardiola asked of me, I would have played more and enjoyed my time at the club.

[In the hope of finding a route back to the Premier League, he joined Birmingham on loan in 2010. It’s a move he now admits was the wrong one] Birmingham was a mistake. I don’t mean that negatively towards them, because they are a historic English team; a great club. At the time, I was used to playing in teams which played good football and at Birmingham, their style was to play physically, to use long balls. It just didn’t suit me

[Towards the end of the loan, Hleb himself hinted at an Arsenal return] I did speak to my agent about a move back to Arsenal, but he told me that it would be impossible because they’d bought two or three new midfielders

[Although he didn’t get to don the club’s colours again, he still watches the club as a fan] I do watch Arsenal, I support them. They are my team

The contract situation [with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil] can affect the whole group, of course. We’re not talking about tennis, where you only need to think about yourself. Everybody must be together and when there are rumours that players want to leave, it transmits to their team-mates

We had it [at Arsenal] with Thierry Henry, our best player, similar to Sanchez now. When he moved to Barcelona, everyone thought we were finished, but football moves on. If Alexis Sanchez does decide to leave, someone will replace him and Arsenal will move forward

[He speaks of his current home with great enthusiasm, and urges people not to avoid visiting Russia for next year’s World Cup] The Russian people are fantastic, they love football … nobody should be afraid of coming to Russia. Mutual respect is key, and if people respect the Russians, they will respect you too. Everybody just wants to enjoy the World Cup, and a country like this hosting such a big event will be amazing

I love football and experiencing new leagues. I still feel fresh, and I don’t feel tired of football either. I’m not sure what my next move will be, I haven’t considered it yet. I became a dad in December so there’s more focus on family now. I want to go on holiday with them and think, as a family, to decide. Maybe I’ll play one more year, maybe not. I studied a law degree for four years at the Academy of Public Administration. It’s something I could go into after football, I’m not sure. I learnt a lot, though, and thoroughly enjoyed it

2019 06 26 Retrieve

[Alexander Hleb says Barcelona sold Ronaldinho and Deco to protect Lionel Messi because the pair would often turn up to training drunk] Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk. That’s why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi

[The Belarus international says that he did not want to join Barcelona in the first place and sees it as a turning point in his career] Frankly, I initially did not want to go to Barcelona at all. I wanted to go to Bayern Munich or stay at Arsenal. But the agents were telling me to go as it was Guardiola who was calling. When I moved to Barca, I lived with Thierry Henry for a while. He said to me: ‘Stay until you find something. What is in the hotel? It’s boring’. And so I spent a month with him. He always said to me: ‘Why did you go to Barca?! Well, call me, I would explain everything!

2019 06 26b Retrieve

[Former Barcelona midfielder Alexander Hleb has said the Catalans made the decision to sell Ronaldinho and Deco in 2008 to protect Lionel Messi from their influence, as the two would often turn up to training drunk] Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk. That’s why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi

[He also spoke about his time with the Catalans, saying he never wanted to join them in the first place] Frankly, I initially did not want to go to Barcelona at all. I wanted to go to Bayern Munich or stay at Arsenal. But the agents were telling me to go as it was Guardiola who was calling. When I moved to Barca, I lived with Thierry Henry for a while. He said to me: ‘Stay until you find something. What is in the hotel? It’s boring’. And so I spent a month with him. He always said to me: ‘Why did you go to Barca?! Well, call me, I would explain everything!’

2020 03 22 Retrieve

[Hleb: Wenger’s advice at Arsenal made me feel like I’d grown wings on my back] It’s hard for me to imagine Arsenal without Wenger because to me Wenger is Arsenal and Arsenal is Wenger. When Wenger was signing me, he just wanted me to adapt as quickly as possible and to have fun with the game, to do whatever it takes for the team, for results. I felt his support. Once I got injured, spent two months off the field, and it was hard to regain the flow, so I started having doubts about possibly returning to Germany. He just told me a couple of words which ended up having such a strong impact on me. I felt like I’d grown wings on my back. I was overwhelmed with emotions, eagerness, desire to live up to expectations

2020 03 23 Retrieve

[Hleb tries to make light of chaos as he admits ‘no one cares’ about coronavirus in Belarus] All the world now watches the Belarusian league. Everybody should go to their television and see us. When the NHL closed the season, a lot of ice hockey players went to Russia to play. Maybe Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might come to the Belarus league to continue. You know? It’s the only place in Europe you can play football. At least then the people of Belarus will be happy

The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League. This is good, because you have to try and stop it. Uefa have done the right thing. But in Belarus, it’s like no one cares. It’s incredible. Maybe in one week or two weeks we will stop here. Maybe our President is just waiting to see what happens with the virus.

Everybody here knows what’s happened to Italy and Spain. It doesn’t look good. But in our country, people in the presidential administration believe it’s not as extreme as the news says. A lot of young people and students here think like this. I’m keeping at home with my family. But when I go out, the streets and restaurants are still busy

Everybody’s been training as normal, getting ready for the new season. They just don’t care. I care about my health and my family. I’m keeping to minimum contact. I won’t be going to Isloch. It’s very difficult to explain our country. All leagues have closed but we don’t seem to think it’s a problem. Why? I don’t know

2020 03 25 Retrieve

[Alexander Hleb on being managed by Arsene Wenger and being an idiot to Pep Guardiola] Arsenal was the happiest stage of my life. Working with (Arsene) Wenger is the best thing that could have happened. He appreciated and supported each player individually. He got the best out of every player

[But the Belarusian struggled to get minutes under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, admitting he was a bit foolish at times] It was entirely my fault, not Guardiola. He did everything possible for me to help me adapt to the country and the club quickly and to learn the language. I acted like an idiot. The group was really good. I had a great career. I made a few mistakes but I keep the good memories from all the clubs