Home » People » Valery Karpin: The Russian Manager When Nation Was Suspended
Coach hugging one of soccer players

Valery Karpin: The Russian Manager When Nation Was Suspended

Barely three years after hanging up his boots, the Russian Valery Karpin is a successful businessman with a profile very different from your typical ex-player.

The former Real Sociedad, and Celta Vigo star whose career took off at FC Spartak Moscow alongside Dmitry Radchenko, Alexandr Mostovoi, Dmitry Popov, and Robert Jarni, played football professionally for 17 years before becoming a property developer and a general director of a real estate company based in Galicia in Spain’s north-west. Some have even dubbed Valeri Karpin as the Galician Abramovich, a comparison he rejects out of hand. “If only we were more alike! I’m afraid the only thing we have in common is that we’re both Russian,” he says.

After winning three league titles and one Russian Cup with FC Spartak Moscow, Valery Karpin signed for Real Sociedad in 1994. He would eventually end his club level playing days in 2005 after subsequent spells at Valencia CF (1996 to 1997) and Celta Vigo (1997 to 2002). “I’ve experienced extraordinary moments with every team I’ve played for,” he told The History Of Soccer team when visiting our offices.

“Finishing runners-up in the league with Real Sociedad, qualifying for the UEFA Cup with Celta Vigo, the league and cup titles with Spartak Moscow. These were all successes.”

karpin valerie playing club level football

Valery Karpin Unfulfilled Ambitions

“One unfulfilled ambition was an international title with Russia, as we had an outstanding team,” lamented Valery Karpin. Instead, he had the honor of scoring Russia’s first goal after the break-up of the USSR and participating in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000.

Born in Estonia in 1969, Karpin insists his retirement from football was not traumatic, as he felt the time was right to dedicate more time to his investments in the construction sector and a career in property development. He began by refurbishing a building in Vigo city center, which today houses the offices of Valery Karpin Ltd. Valeri Karpin would later embark on a joint venture with his former Celta team-mate and current Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado to buy a run-down sector of the Galician capital to redevelop.

“Why here in Vigo? Well, I like the city, its people and the atmosphere, plus I spent five seasons here, so I put down roots. I fell in love with the surroundings and have many friends here,” Valery Karpin explains.

Naturally, Karpin is as concerned as anyone about the present economic crisis. “In the lead up to the great financial crisis, the Spanish economy has been experiencing a boom, fuelled by the real estate sector. But, unfortunately, the downturn affected all of us,” he says.

Yet his entrepreneurial projects are not the only ones to benefit the city where he has decided to raise his two children. Valery Karpin has become a renowned sports patron in the region’s capital, financing a cycling team, sponsoring the Vigo Volleyball Club (the longest-running of its kind in Spain), the Vigo University Rugby Club, and the Paralympic swimmer Chano Rodriguez.

“There are good reasons for supporting each of these, but I wanted to help the people and sport in as far as I could. It’s a way for me to express my gratitude for everything the city has done for me,” he says with total sincerity.


Genius And Figurehead

Many fans remember Valery Karpin as a pacy and tenacious midfielder who was commitment personified on the football pitch. Unsurprisingly, the enthusiasm evident during his playing days is just as prevalent in his work today. Indeed, while his staff enjoys a couple of days off, it is Valery Karpin himself who opens the doors to us at his offices, where he is busy tying up a few loose ends.

“I like to involve myself in every project I set up, whether it’s related to football or business. The fans of the teams I played for appreciated that dedication. My performances on the pitch may have varied, but no one could ever accuse me of not giving my all. Well, it’s the same thing here,” Valery Karpin explains.

That said, operating in the business world has forced the Russian to temper the fiery side so typical of his play. “Yes, it’s different. Out on the pitch, you compete with a fierce passion for 90 minutes, but it’s not about going into battle in business. You have to restrain yourself much more; it’s not as intense.”

After retiring, Valery Karpin admits spending a year or so away from the game, saying: “I barely watched a match as I was tired of football.” Then the opportunity came along to present a Spanish league highlights program, and he jumped back in.

” I continue to play alongside other ex-players, as you always have that passion for the game in your blood,” Valery Karpin says.

“Football has given me everything I have, both emotionally and economically. It has been my life, but it limits the time you can dedicate to other things like any job. Nowadays, though, I have even less free time. Back when I was playing, I could spend most evenings with my family but had to sacrifice the weekends, whereas now it’s the opposite,” he says with a smile.

Valery Karpin has less time with the family because he is spearheading Russia’s football national team qualifications for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as the team manager.

Valery Karpin Russian Football Manager

Football Management

After the financial crisis in 2008 and knowing it would take years for the housing market to improve, Valery Karpin went into football management with FC Spartak Moscow. However, after four years, he was sacked and immediately offered the position at RCD Mallorca. The following season, the manager was back in Russia with club side Torpedo Armavir. In 2017, Karpin was appointed the manager of Russian club FC Rostov where he stayed for fours seasons.

In the wake of the team’s poor performance at the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup, former head coach Stanislav Cherchesov stepped down in July 2021. The Russian Football Union initially appointed Valery Karpin as interim Russia’s national team football head coach in an attempt to get the country back on track for automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup. Although they won 5 matches from the 7 remaining matches, they did not automatically qualify.

Now Russia has to play in additional play-off games to secure one of the three remaining European spots. Valery Karpin will have his work cut out with Portugal, Italy, Wales, Sweden, and seven other countries fighting for the same goal.

Valery Karpin enjoyed his Christmas break with his four daughters, his wife, and Russian singer Daria Gordeeva. The Russian Football Union and the manager are now back to the task of making sure that the Russian national team will be involved in Qatar 2022. Their next important World Cup qualifier is on March 24th against Poland. If they defeat Poland, they will play either Sweden or Czech Republic on 29th March 2022.  The winner of this match will qualify for the Qatar tournament.

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, FIFA and UEFA suspended Russian clubs and national teams from international competition until further notice on 28 February 2022. As of March 2022, Valery Karpin is under contract with the national team until the end of 2022. He has returned to the position of manager at FC Rostov.

The History Of Soccer team would like to thank coach Valeri Karpin for stopping by our offices and wish him the best of luck in qualifying.

Valeriy Karpin Facts And Statistics

Full Name: Valeriy Karpin (also known as Valeri or Valery)
Birthdate: 02/02/1969
Birthplace: Narva, USSR

Club Career:

  • Sport Tallinn: 1986–1988
  • CSKA Moscow: 1988
  • Fakel Voronezh 1989
  • FC Spartak Moscow 1990–1994
  • Real Sociedad 1994–1996
  • Valencia CF 1996–1997
  • Celta Vigo 1997–2002
  • Real Sociedad 2002–2005

Club Honors:

  • FC Spartak Moscow: 1992, 1993, and 1994 League Champions
  • Celta Vigo: 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup

National Team:

  • Russia (73 appearances, 17 goals)

Manager Career:

  • FC Spartak Moscow 2009–2014
  • RCD Mallorca 2014–2015
  • Torpedo Armavir 2015–2016
  • FC Rostov 2017–2021
  • Russia National Team 2021–current

Personal Honors:

  • 1999 Russia Footballer of the Year