Rio Ferdinand and Peter Schmeichel visit the Kremlin as Vladimir Putin receives ‘legends of world football’
- Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted eight retired stars at the Kremlin
- Luminaries such as Lothar Matthaus and Marco van Basten also in attendance
- FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke glowingly at Friday’s televised meeting
- Hosts Russia take on Croatia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday
Lothar Matthaus, Marco van Basten, Diego Forlan, Jorge Campos, Zvonimir Boban and Alex Scott were also in attendance at the complex in the heart of Moscow along with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Tea and cakes were on offer as Putin shook hands with each of his illustrious guests before embarking upon an address lauding the atmosphere in Russia during the World Cup, the behaviour of the supporters and claiming that many stereotypes regarding the country had simply collapsed.
Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted eight football legends at the Kremlin on Friday
Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel, right, was one of the luminaries in attendance
Schmeichel’s son Kasper was so nearly the hero for Denmark against Croatia last weekend
The players, Putin, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and other dignitaries discuss the World Cup
He also spoke of his intentions to draw up plans for the infrastructure created to benefit the ‘development of physical culture in the country’.
Putin, who was presented with his own shirt bearing the No 11, said: ‘I am sure that the overwhelming majority of those who came to us will take away the most kind feelings and memories of our country and will return here again and again.’
The Russian national team have been one of the surprises of the tournament so far despite their lowly world ranking, qualifying successfully from Group A and stunning Spain on penalties in the last 16.
Putin shakes hands with Lothar Matthaus, captain of the West Germany side that won Italia 90
Infantino, fourth left, believes that Russia haa become a ‘truly genuine footballing country’
Infantino delivers his planned remarks as Nikita Simonyan, Putin and Schmeichel look on
They take on Croatia in the quarter-finals in Sochi on Saturday evening and Infantino believes Russia has now become a ‘truly genuine football country’ – with that aforementioned upset of the 2010 world champions seeing a ‘football virus spread across the country’. He also claimed that everyone had ‘fallen in love’ with Russia.
Some of the former players in attendance such as Matthaus were also full of praise for the current World Cup, which is already being spoken of as one of the best in recent memory due to the sheer amount of drama on…