Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was one of Russia’s golden boys but things rarely worked out for him at Goodison Park under David Moyes.
The former Lokomotiv Moscow player signed a five-year deal back in 2009 to join Everton for an undisclosed fee in what was then a very exciting bit of business.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of Diniyar,” Everton chief executive Robert Elstone told the club’s official website at the time (via Telegraph).
“I know David Moyes has wanted to bring him to Goodison for some time and we look forward to welcoming him.”
The goliath Russian was the embodiment of everything the world had come to associate with post-Cold War Russia – big, clunky and somewhat powerful.
Bilyaletdinov did not hang around and quickly put his talents to use in Everton’s 4-0 Europa League victory over helpless AEK Athens claiming three assists in a single match.
The six goals Premier League goals he scored in his debut season should have set a marker for years to come. The emergence of a proper Everton player – a big cog in an even bigger machine, a relatively unknown name that would have every last drop of potential fulfilled by the historic club, a people’s player.
Alas, it was not to be. Bilyaletdinov’s highs of the 2009/10 season were followed by the immediate and harsh lows of the 2010/11 campaign, where he managed the comparatively small returns of two goals, and the doldrums of 2011/12 in which he accumulated a single assist.
Adjusting to the demands of the Premier League is never easy and sometimes players just miss the mark.
“attacking, entertaining football,” he said on the cusp of a move back to Moscow (via Telegraph).
“Naturally, it attracts me,” he said. “This is exactly what Everton have been missing lately. The team has problems with creating scoring chances and converting them.”
His return to the capital was hardly fruitful either. Managing only four goals and one assist in 30 games for the red and white of Spartak, he was quickly shipped back out to the Anzhi where he did a little better.
His decline through the Russian system was underlined by a final failed loan move to Torpedo Moscow before Rubin Kazan’s error of judgement brought him to their shores.
If the tragic descent into obscurity in his home nation was not enough for the once touted prospect, football took one last snide kick at him. Bilyaletdinov, once a man of the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League, an every-present feature in the Russian national team, would all but end his career at Lithuanian outfit FK Riterarai.
At 34-years-of-age and a free agent, we doubt there is much left for him in the game now.