Russia had just finished a training session days before its 2018 World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia. The local press was gathered at the team's facility at Novogorsk Training Center outside Moscow. Mario Fernandes stood in the middle of a scrum, taking question after question in Russian, not understanding a word.
The 27-year-old Brazil-born defender has lived in Russia since 2012 and became a citizen in 2016. He plays for CSKA Moscow and now represents the country as part of the Russian national team, but when asked by one reporter to say a few words in Russian, he offered only two: "spasiba" (thank you) and "pozhalusta" (you're welcome). And even for that, he needed a reporter from local outlet Championat to translate the question to Portuguese.
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