The son of one of Vladimir Putin’s best friends has been given one of Russia’s most prestigious coaching jobs in ice hockey.
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In 2015, Patrick Thoresen won the Gagarin Cup (KHL’s response to the NHL’s Stanley Cup) for SKA St. Petersburg.
Roman Rotenberg (40) has now become the head coach of this club. He is the son of billionaire Boris Rotenberg, Vladimir Putin’s childhood friend, judo partner and also a hockey buddy.
Rotenberg has never coached any team, neither in juniors nor seniors, but has according to MatchTV trained as a coach at a university in Siberia.
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He takes over from former national team coach Valerij Bragin, who, however, stays at the club – as an assistant to Rotenberg, who becomes KHL’s youngest coach.
Roman Rotenberg is already deputy chairman of the board of the KHL and of SKA St. Petersburg, which is led by another Putin friend, Gennady Timchenko. The club is owned by the state gas giant Gazprom.
– It is the directors who have hired me. This is nothing new to me. This is just the next stage, he says in an interview with Sport Ekspress.
He compares his career with José Mourinhos. He believes that both have taken inspiration from their predecessors to become successful coaches. But Rotenberg misses when he says that “Mourinho started as an interpreter for Ferguson” (Mourinho, on the other hand, was an interpreter for Bobby Robson).
– There are many such coaches in history. This is my life, it gives me the opportunity to develop and become even better, says Roman Rotenborg according to sports.ru.
Commentators are skeptical that Rotenberg has got the job.
– In an ideal world, a coach would have started with children or young people, gone the hard way and gained valuable experience. But a man with his status does not have time to go through all the levels, writes Sport Express commentator Mikhail Zislis.
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– This is his first job as a coach, and he has never played professional ice hockey, states Radio Svoboda in his mention.
Rotenberg himself says MatchTV that he has seen around 800 matches in the KHL and therefore has extensive experience.
A number of business leaders and other celebrities are regularly pictured playing ice hockey with President Putin. Rotenberg and his father Boris are two of these.
Roman Rotenberg has already made his debut as a KHL coach, and it ended with a 5-1 victory over Chinese Kunlun Red Star, which is one of the clubs in the Russian-controlled league.
The father Boris Rotenberg is according to Forbes good for around 10 billion kroner.