Alex Song has opened up on his nightmare spell with Russian Club Rubin Kazan, which saw him live at the club’s training ground.
Alex Song spent two years in Russia after his Barcelona contract expired following loan spells at West Ham .
The 31-year-old was promised the world at Kazan: regular first team football, a healthy wage packet and, most importantly, a house to live in. These promises were never delivered however, as the house he was meant to live in never materialised and he was moved out of a hotel to live at Kazan’s training ground to save costs.
“When I first signed, I was told I would be given a house,” said Song in a recent interview with The Telegraph.
“But then one month, two months, six months, I didn’t have a house. Then they took me out of the hotel and I had to live at the training ground – that was after about three months of being in Kazan. They kept telling me I had to wait for the house to be finished, but one day I spoke to a woman who was meant to be designing the houses and she said nobody from the club had been in touch.
“The training ground was OK, but it’s not like when you live at home. It was worse than a hotel, too, because at least then you can get away from the club and switch off. My room at the training ground was fine and the facilities were good, but it’s not good for you. You can’t relax. Everyone else either had a house or left the club.
“I spent my time sitting in my room and I would never even put the lights on when I was in there. I just sat with my computer, no TV on, nothing because I couldn’t understand any of the Russian TV. My whole life was just a computer and phone, and that’s not healthy.”
“Kazan is a nice place. There are good restaurants and good people, but, to be honest, I never really went out because I didn’t have any friends. I was just sitting in my room. I went to a restaurant maybe twice or three times during the whole time I was there. I ate all my meals at the training ground, the food was good but it was lonely. I was going mad. I wasn’t crying, but I was stressed.”
The 49-capped Cameroon international would regularly call his wife back home, who still resided in the family house in London with their two boys – Nolan and Kaylian, but never revealed the struggle he was going through at his new club.
“I couldn’t tell people for a while that it was not good, I had to say everything was OK because I didn’t want them to worry.
“I just had to be positive and not make other people feel bad as well, particularly my wife and two boys back in London.”
Things went from bad to worse for Song, in August of last year he was dropped from the team and stopped receiving payment from his employers.
“I think it was maybe the directors who decided I couldn’t play because they wanted the players who they said cost a lot of money to leave and they stopped paying us,” said Song.
Money was becoming a worry and pressure started mounting regarding his bills in England; he still had a mortgage on a house in London to think about, and it was when the bank started phoning him to ask about payment that Song realised the true extent of his disastrous situation.
“You have mortgages and things, and you have to keep paying all these bills. I had a mortgage on a place in London and the bank was calling asking where my money was and that’s very stressful – it’s the worst part. I never used to have to worry about money too much in my career, but now all of a sudden I had banks calling me and pressure on me.”
After leaving Russia in December 2017, it took Song a further nine months to recover the £7.9 million he was owed from Rubin Kazan, but with the threat of Fifa action looming, the club eventually paid up in full.
Following a torrid time in Eastern Europe, the midfielder is now focussing on his career in Switzerland with FC Sion. So far Song has started eight matches for his new side in all competitions as they look to push for a spot in the Europa League next season.