Friday, 8 April 2011

His contribution will not be televised

It's safe to say that the Russian First Division isn't a league that broadcasters across the world have been fighting over. The new 2011-12 season is the first time it's been nationally televised, despite feeding one of the world's richest leagues. Two games in and the experiment seems to be working, to judge by an ecstatic reception across fan sites. It gives football fans and the provinces - both often taken for granted by the Russian elites - something to cheer about.

But the new TV exposure also offers a salutary lesson: even in a footballing age saturated with YouTube clips set to dreadful Eurodance, it's perfectly possible for a player to shine and never be seen. Take Dimitrii Akimov. His hat-trick yesterday against Baltika Kaliningrad took him to 114 goals in 170 appearances for Sibir Novosibirsk (H/t Domm Norris), but the TV cameras were elsewhere, covering a scrappy mess in Voronezh, and the league didn't send anyone to get footage for its clip show.

Akimov is a ghost on video sites. He has a reputation as a powerful, perhaps English-style forward, but there's no way to see for yourself. A pretty exhaustive search turns up two clips of him scoring, and a couple more of him in the background during a fitful  Premier League spell at Rostov. There's no trace of his 34-goal club record haul in 2007.

So here, in tribute to Dimitrii Akimov, the man who fell through the cracks, is his only goal from open play on the Internet:

(The goal is for Sibir against SKA-Khabarovsk. The game finished 1-1.)

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