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Today Hleb in the team – when a world star put on his football boots in Belarus – misses sports

Today Hleb in the team – when a world star put on his football boots in Belarus – misses sports


Opponents of Natty Belarus were once led by a “apprentice magician” known for his elusiveness.


Everything comes to an end

Alexander Hleb makes his last appearance for the national team on 24 March 2019 in a 2-1 draw in Northern Ireland.

Imago / Paul Greenwood

The Belarusian national team – on Saturday in Novi Sad (SRB) the opening opponent of the NATI in the course of the European Championship qualifiers – the sounding names are missing. Most players make their money in the local league. The rest is under contracts in Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Russia and Israel. star player? no one. But this was not always the case.

There was a time when one of the most talented midfielders in Europe played in the Belarusian national team. His name is Alexander Hleb.

“King of Dribbling”

If you search for Alexander Hleb on YouTube, you will come across videos with names like “King of Dribbling” or “Master of Dribbling”. The recordings from the first half of the noughties are of moderate quality. But you get an idea of ​​why Hleb played for, among others, Arsenal and Barcelona: quick dribbling, sudden physical feinting and precise deep passing shaped his style of play.

Magician apprentice in Stuttgart

The tall and slender-looking Hleb was first noticed by the general public in the 2001/2002 season, when the 20-year-old, along with Krasimir Balakov, flew for the VfB Stuttgart club and was dubbed “the charming debutante” by the press. Later, Hleb also played with Marco Streller for the Swabians. In 2005 he joined Arsenal and became a teammate of Philippe Senderos.

But it was in the Premier League that bad luck began with injuries, which Hleb had to retire several times. However, Hleb led Arsenal to the Champions League Final in 2006 with Cesc Fàbregas. The Belarusian played a total of 126 matches for the London side before – at the height of his career – after the 2007/08 season paid a fee of €19m (with a release clause of €19m). 90 million euros) to Barcelona, ​​led by Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona and the “worst decision”

But in the star group of the Catalans, Hleb was never happy. When Barcelona won the Champions League in 2009, the new purchase wasn’t even on the match sheet for the final in Rome. In the past, he has even called the change “the worst decision of my career.” Loans followed at Stuttgart (amongst others under coach Christian Gross), Birmingham and Wolfsburg. After his 31st birthday, Hleb continued to play in Russia, Belarus and Turkey and only hung up his football boots at the end of 2019 at the age of 38.

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We will be showing you the first match of the Swiss national team in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Novi Sad (SRB) against Belarus live on Saturday from 5:15 pm on SRF Zwei and in the SRF sports app.

Hleb has made 80 appearances for the Belarusian national team – the latest in March 2019. With six Footballer of the Year awards (2002, 2003 and 2005-2008), the former world star is the Belarusian record holder.