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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Tetradze returns to the fold
Tetradze tussles with Juergen Klinsmann at Euro 96
Tetradze tussles with Juergen Klinsmann at Euro 96

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Defender Omar Tetradze, a veteran of Russia's last World Cup appearance in 1994, has played himself into contention for a place in the squad for the finals eight years later.

Tetradze is back in coach Oleg Romantsev's plans after returning to Russia and his old club Alania Vladikavkaz.

"I need to play for Alania to get a decent place in the national squad and go with it to Japan," said Tetradze,

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Thanks to my wife, I didn't hang up my boots
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Omar Tetradze

"Only painstaking work on oneself and good games in the Russian league can give a candidate a chance to go."

Born in Georgia of Greek heritage, Tetradze is an international player in every sense of the words.

He made his debut in the Soviet league with Georgian side Dynamo Tbilisi and later in the Russian league with Dynamo Moscow.

In 1996, he moved to Roma in Italy after winning the Russian league with Vladikavkaz, a North Ossetian club who became the only team to break Spartak Moscow's dominance in the last ten years.

Within months of his move, though, he was sidelined after picking up a serious knee injury while playing for Russia against Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier in 1997.

Tetradze spent two years out of the game recovering from the injury.

Luckily, he received a lot of support from then Russian coach Boris Ignatiev and his assistent Yury Syomin.

But it was his wife who convinced him he would play again.

"Thanks to her I didn't hang up my boots," he said.

Tetradze is sometimes referred to as a member of the lost generation of senior Russian players who missed out on the last World Cup and European championship.

"The national team has for many years not really achieved anything," Tetradze said.

"But for those who played at the start of the 1990s and still play now there is a chance to show what they can do in Japan."

Tetradze returned to bigtime football with Greek side PAOK and, after a brief spell in the Greek army, he returned to Russia earlier this year and soon caught the eye of Oleg Romantsev.

He even turned down a chance to play in Japan for a chance to play in Japan.

Former Anzhi Makhachkala coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev wanted him to play in the J-League, but Tetradze chose Alania Vladikavkaz instead.

"I have returned to the team where I had the biggest success in my football career," he said.

And, in April, it paid off as he was recalled to the Russia squad that drew with world champions France.

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GROUP H
  P GD PTS
JAPAN 3 +3 7
BELGIUM 3 +1 5
RUSSIA 3 0 3
TUNISIA 3 -4 1

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