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Massive salary led ex-Zenit trainer to seek psychiatric help

MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) - Former Zenit St. Petersburg trainer Vlastimil Petrzhela is currently being treated in a Czech psychiatric clinic for compulsive gambling, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Thursday.

Czech trainer Petrzhela worked in Russia's second city for three and a half years, from 2002 to 2006, and in 2003 took the team to second place in the championship. His salary was then raised to some $3 million a year, more than half of which, according to the paper, he annually lost in the city's many casinos.

"Vlastimil always was a gambler," the trainer's wife told the paper. "But the salary he was receiving in St. Petersburg finally stripped him of any self-control. If only they hadn't paid him so much."

Petrzhela never managed to lift the title with Zenit, and once famously complained that, "Zenit will never be allowed to become champions, because everything in Russian soccer is geared towards the Moscow teams."

"The anti-depressants that he started to take while he was working at Zenit also played a role. He simply wasn't aware of how much money he was losing," she added.

After his return to the Czech Republic, Petrzhela continued to gamble, and eventually booked himself into a famous psychiatric clinic near Prague.

His wife told the paper that no one from Zenit had been in touch, apart from their former translator who "calls from time to time."

Petrzhela has occasionally been linked with a return to Russian soccer. What, wondered the paper, would he do if he was offered another chance to work in the country?

"I'd have to go with him," said his wife.

State-run energy giant Gazprom bought a controlling stake in Zenit in 2005, and the club finally lifted its first title two years later.

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