Former Barcelona and Arsenal winger Alexander Hleb wants to regain his confidence and revive his career in Russia, he said Monday after joining struggling Krylya Sovetov Samara.
The Belarus international was released by Barcelona earlier this month after failing to break into the first team at the Spanish champions, where he played 19 times in four years.
“Every man has to face ups and downs. Recently I’ve made more than a few mistakes. I’ve been held back by injuries as well. Psychologically, it’s not easy now,” Hleb told Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport.
“I need to forget about the bad things quickly and work hard. Put on the shirt, regain my confidence and then everything will be alright.”
Krylya Sovetov are currently 13th of 16 teams in the Russian Premier League, four points above the automatic relegation places, and three points clear of a relegation play-off spot.
Hleb has reportedly rejected an offer from an unnamed American club to join Krylya Sovetov, who have three other Belarus internationals in their squad, including center-back Dmitry Verkhovtsev, who captains the national side.
“I found out that there are Belarusian players in the Krylya Sovetov side. It played an important role in my decision,” he said.
“In terms of everyday life, America might have been more comfortable, but I want to play football at a high level. At the time, the Russian championship was the most interesting option. ... Football in Russia is developing. The teams are doing well in European competitions.”
Hleb scored seven times in 89 appearances for Arsenal between 2005 and 2008, playing in the 2006 Champions League final, which Arsenal lost to Barcelona.
He failed to find the net at Barcelona and spent time on loan at VfB Stuttgart, Birmingham City and VfB Wolfsburg. While at Birmingham, he received a winner’s medal in the 2011 League Cup, but missed the final through injury.
Hleb has played 55 times for the Belarus national side, scoring six goals, and has captained the team.