Penza football fans, colleagues hold memorial service for Sergei Filippenkov
Penza, 16 October 2015. PenzaNews. The memorial service for the head coach of the Penza football club “Zenit” Sergei Filippenkov, who suddenly passed away during the veteran football match, took place in “Zenit” sports complex on Friday, October 16.
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Regional officials, colleagues, football school students and team fans took part in the farewell ceremony.
It opened with a speech by Nikolai Shumilin, press officer of “Zenit” and well-known personality of the Penza football scene, who recalled the timeline of Sergei Filippenkov and stressed that his coaching allowed the team to reach the best results in the Russian championship in their history.
“The fifth place was the highest place. And this year, in spite of several key players going missing, Sergei managed to prepare the team so well that it stayed in the lead for a long time, holding onto the first or the second place in the list,” he said.
Nikolai Shumilin also highlighted the personal qualities of the now-deceased, who in his life remained ever-optimistic and relentlessly followed his vision.
“I happened to work very closely with him, and I never heard him saying ‘I cannot’ or ‘it is tough.’ Instead, he said: ‘Nikolai Fedorovich, let’s try this.’ Every time, his commentary, his professional answer to any question was succinct, precise, laconic,” the press officer of “Zenit” added.
According to him, the head coach worked very hard, thoroughly analyzed strategies of opposing teams and never rushed to end a career of any football player.
“It is a very tough feeling right now. Perhaps, it is true that the God takes the best of us,” Nikolai Shumilin suggested.
In turn, Yuri Krivov, head of Penza city administration, said all who knew Sergei Filippenkov were shocked by his death, and that the passing of the “Zenit” head coach was too early for his age.
“This great man appeared in Penza. I happened to talk to him only a handful of times, and I saw him to be a surprisingly kind man, with a unique sense of humor, in the lead of ‘Zenit.’ […] The Penza ‘Zenit’ today is a strong team,” the mayor said.
The legacy of the sports coach will forever stay in the hearts of Penza citizens, he added.
“I believe that our professional team will be deserving of the legacy of their head coach,” the city administration head stressed.
Yuri Krivov also suggested naming the Penza football school after Sergei Filippenkov, but only after a thorough analysis.
The acting chairman of the regional sports committee Artur Panteleev shared his reminiscence of the “Zenit” head coach, pointing out that Sergei Filippenkov came to head the team in tough times.
“But you brought the team together over this small period of time. You brought the team to the heights we’ve never reached before,” he addressed the now-deceased.
Every football match only seems to be relatively short, Artur Panteleev added.
“Only ninety minutes, but how burn the hearts of the coaches, the people who lead the teams out to play, who prepare the teams and bear full responsibility for the result. ‘Zenit’ began to fare better, the team began to gain with every match. I think this flywheel will be hard to stop,” the regional sports committee chief expressed his belief.
According to Nikolai Boleev, chairman of the Penza Region Football Federation, the region had no specialists who trained in Premiere League or abroad.
“And thanks to the work of the city, regional authorities we see the likes of Sergei Filippenkov coming here,” he said, noting the effect of the experts on the team’s general ability.
“Professional sports always leaves its mark on one’s health. It is clear for all of us,” Nikolai Boleev added.
In turn, Victor Smagin, director of the football club “Zenit,” pointed out that Sergei Filippenkov was a very goal-oriented person.
“Here’s an example. When they had a spare moment, Sergei [Filippenkov], Bulatov [head coach of ‘Zenit’ from Septenber 2012 to August 2015], Gradilenko [sports director from September 2012 to August 2015] were playing tennis, and Sergei Alexandrovich lost many a game to them at first. But then he asked my daughter for lessons, and he began winning after the training – both against Dmitry Gradilenko, and against Victor Bulatov. The man always strived to be the first,” he stressed.
Sergei Filippenkov “lived a worthy life and died in dignity,” Victor Smagin added.
“Of course, it happened too early. But football players will get what I’m saying: I think such a death is like a gift from the God,” he said.
The last one to speak at the funeral service was Maxim Igoshin, captain player of Penza “Zenit,” who said he still struggles to realize what had happened.
“Only yesterday he trained us – upbeat as ever, energy overflowing. And today we are standing here, by his coffin,” the footballer explained.
“He wanted as many victories as possible, dreamt of the first place. From all football team and myself, I would like to tell you we are going to do as much as we can to make his dream come true,” the team captain concluded.
After the memorial ceremony, the coffin was carried out of the sports complex by the team players followed with a farewell ovation. The funeral cortege proceeded from Penza to Smolensk, the native city of the head coach, where he will be buried.