MOSCOW SOCCER CLUB PROLONGS ARGENTINIAN FORWARD'S CONTRACT

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MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow soccer club that bears its city's name has prolonged Hector Bracamonte's contract for four years, Yuri Belous, Moscow Club president and general manager, announced to a Novosti news conference, this afternoon.

The Argentinian forward is his team's heart and soul, and its only player to have appeared in all its thirty meets last year, said Mr. Belous.

The Moscow had to pay a million US dollars to get Bracamonte over from Argentina's Boca Juniors club. A good soccer player's average transfer price has come up to five or even six million since, point out experts-but to sell Hector is the last thing the Moscow intends to do.

A majority of fans and newsmen ask him about his appearance far more often than about soccer, the forward confessed to the conference.

He is pestered with queries about the change of his public image in Russia and Argentina alike, he said.

One of the most picturesque Russian Cup legionaries, Hector got from Russian fans the nickname of "Pushkin", thanks to his lush sideburns and head of hair.

He enjoys changing his appearance, though he does not think it matters all that much, remarked Hector "Pushkin" Bracamonte.

"I adore new haircuts-but that does not depend in the slightest on the weather, season or how I do on the soccer field. I merely don't know an easier way to change myself," he said.

Hector made his fans a surprise last season to bob his famous head of hair and shave off his trademark sideburns. Mr. Belous flew into a rage and told he would cut the Argentinian's salary if the man didn't grow his hair back into its previous glory. The threat had its desired effect, and "Pushkin" regained his picturesque appearance for the season 2005/06.

Legionaries are dominating Russian soccer. Argentinians are prominent among them. Spartak-Moscow broke the world's transfer record last year to pay $11.5 million for Fernando Cavenagh, Argentina's River Plate forward.

The inflow of fine players has not spectacularly upgraded Russian soccer, to tell the truth. On the contrary, Argentinians eventually lose their luster to dissolve in the legionary crowd. Only few remain the stars they had been before coming to Russia. Hairy Hector "Pushkin" Bracamonte is among those lucky exceptions.

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