'Four men approached me while I was eating in a cafe and informed me that I would be disabled for life': Manchester United legend lifts the lid on his time in Uzbekistan

Andrei Kanchelskis, formerly of Manchester United
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Football management is a notoriously volatile business, but Manchester United cult hero Andrei Kanchelskis discovered that there are far worse fates than being sacked during his time working in Uzbekistan.

The former winger, who shone during a trophy-filled five years at Manchester United under Alex Ferguson, embarked on his own managerial career following retirement in 2006.

The last of two spells at Navbahor Namangan, of the Uzbekistan Super League, came to an end in October 2020, when he left the club after four months without being paid.

Kanchelskis appealed for FIFA’s help and they ruled in his favour, ordering Navbahor to pay him more than $1.6million. In an interview for the latest issue of FourFourTwo, the 54-year-old explained how this led to him being threatened by gangsters.

“The club owed me compensation due to earnings lost in the COVID pandemic, and four guys from Chechnya weren’t happy that I’d asked for the payments when I was sacked,” explained Kanchelskis. 

“The four men approached me while I was eating in a café and informed me that I would be “disabled for life” if I didn’t lower my demands. I told the police about it and luckily everything was sorted in the end."

Andrei Kanchelskis

Andrei Kanchelskis during his Manchester United career (Image credit: PA)

Kanchelskis, who also played for Everton, Rangers and Manchester City, recounted another alarming experience he faced during his time at Al Hilal in 2003. After an Al-Qaeda attack close to the compound where he lived in Riyadh, Kanchelskis no longer felt safe in Saudi Arabia so returned to the UK.

“I didn’t feel secure there, despite the Russians and Saudis having a good relationship,” he said.

“I was actually playing chess with a member of the Saudi royal family at the time of the attack but wasn’t aware of it until my wife phoned me from Moscow the next day. Any foreigner staying in Saudi was a target, so I packed my bags and left.”

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