Lingviny / Valeriy Karpin: «…during those 14 years Spanish became my second native language»

Valeriy Karpin: «…during those 14 years Spanish became my second native language»

We talked to Valeriy Karpin, an ex-football player with an impressive career in Russia and Spain. We found out how his first transfer to the Spanish premier league came about and how a language barrier played a role in his career.

We know that you are fluent in Spanish...

Yes, during those 14 years Spanish became my second (native) language. 

Did you have any trouble understanding the language in the beginning of your European career? If so, what is the most interesting example? 

I remember when I was in Moscow with the Russian National team in 1994. I was handed a contract with FC Real Sociedad in Spanish (laughing). 

How did you understand what was in the contract? 

One of my teammates in the National Team was Igor Korneev which at that time had already been playing in Spain for 2 years. So I asked him to translate the contract right there at our team base in Novogorsk. 

How was the translation? 

I understood all of the important details of the contract. But I did not accept the contract conditions then. I insisted on my making changes again through my teammate. 

 At that time it wasn’t really possible to email the contract? 

True! If email was available it would have been must faster and effective. But even then I would still had to look for a translator. 

What about translation agencies? They already existed back then. 

No one even thought about that. First, such practice wasn’t really common. More importantly, there was no time. The decision had to be made “here and now” while the Spanish delegation was in Moscow. 

During your first days in Spain you probably faced difficulties with translation. How did you make your decisions when it came to the work documents or even your domestic-related papers? 

It was not easy in the beginning because I always had to ask the Russian speakers who lived in San Sebastian for help. 

How long did it take you to learn the language? 

After one year I could speak and write in Spanish. As a result, my trip lasted for many years and Spanish became my native language.