Following the news on Tuesday that LFC have become the first English football club to launch on VK - Russia's largest social network – this week's Global Family feature comes from St. Petersburg.

Ivan Potapov was 13 when he saw his first live LFC game on TV in Russia - the 1996 FA Cup final - but despite that agonising defeat to Manchester United, Liverpool had a new supporter for life and this is his story...

Name: Ivan Potapov. 
Age: 30 
City / country: St. Petersburg, Russia 
Job: Journalist, translator 

Why did you pick Liverpool as your team?

My parents were big fans of all things Irish and British and as a kid I was a big fan of the Beatles. So as the city of Liverpool was the birthplace of the Beatles and 'the most Irish city in England', it seemed of great interest to me. There were two local football clubs - both were almost equal in terms of recent success - and I chose Liverpool FC over Everton because of the club's name. 

What's your earliest LFC memory?

It was probably the first Liverpool game I watched live on television - the 1996 FA Cup final - and Ian Rush coming on as a sub. At the time I didn't know how great he had been for Liverpool.

How did people in your country follow Liverpool's fortunes at first?

As far as I know, in USSR it was the Morning Star newspaper and Match magazine at first.

Was it difficult to find out news or see the match?

Yes. Because of the Iron Curtain, we had no or little club news until the early 1990s and it wasn't until the mid-90s when we started to be able to watch the games live.

Who was your first LFC hero an why?

Robbie Fowler. I was a kid and he was a youngster who had just broke through to the first team and made a massive impact. I fell in love with him back then and Robbie is still my hero today!

What is your favourite LFC memory?

Most of my Euro away trips with Liverpool were amazing but seeing John Arne Riise scoring a winner at Barcelona in front of me was just amazing. There were 11 Liverpool players on the pitch and a couple of thousand supporters in the stands and we silenced 90 thousand local fans.

Who has been your favourite Liverpool manager and why?

Unfortunately, I was born year after Bill Shankly passed away and I was too young to see the great teams of Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish. In my opinion, Rafa Benitez is the best manager we have had since I started to follow Liverpool. He gets my vote because I rate him not only as a great manager but as a great person, too. 

What has been your lowest point supporting Liverpool?

Really difficult to answer but the 'epic swindle' was the worst period for me. I knew the club was in the wrong hands.

Have you ever been to Anfield?

Yes. It's amazing even at so-called 'dull games'.   

Where were you while we were in Istanbul?

I missed my chance to visit Istanbul (and I was the only one to blame) so I watched the game with my wife at home. I remember telling my wife at half-time, 'We need to score a quick goal if we want to get anything from the game'. Then at 1-3, 'Come on lads, we can score another, they're stunned', then at 2-3 yelling, 'We can do this lads, just one goal needed' and at 3-3, 'They're doomed, let's score another one'. I can't recall any memories after the final whistle to be honest. It was probably the happiest night of my life. I couldn't fall asleep that night with texts from my mates, who knew I was an avid Liverpool fan, coming through time and time again untill the early morning. Happy days.

Do Liverpool have a passionate fan base where you're from?

Yes, we definitely have a huge Liverpool fan base here. Some of the fans travelled from different parts of the ex-USSR to buy out the whole stand when we played at Gomel.

Which team are considered Liverpool's biggest rivals in your country?

It depends. Manchester United and Everton are considered our biggest rivals by those who have supported Liverpool for many years but for those who have started to follow Liverpool more recently (certainly since Istanbul) they consider Chelsea and Manchester United as our biggest rivals.

Where do you go online to follow news about LFC?

There're some sources here: a few websites in Russian dedicated to Liverpool FC and a number of pages in I like website in Russian, and Liverpool Echo in English and then Twitter and RAWK.

Do you also support a local team?

No, I supported Zenit St. Petersburg when I was younger but that was many years ago. The irony of fate is that they can now spend more money on players than Liverpool and have become a regular Champions League team in recent years now. I'm not envious!

Who is your favourite current player and why?

That's a difficult question. Dirk Kuyt used to be one of my favourite players until he left the club.  Carragher was another big hero until he left, too. Carra is the first Liverpool player I personally remember emerging from the reserves and breaking into the first team. Lucas is now probably my favourite - I've supported him since his first season. He had some difficult times here but I always believed he's a winner and certainly better than some people say he is. I see a lot of the strength of character that Carra had in Lucas - particularly in how they'll always give nothing less than 100 per cent every game and that's what I love in football players.

If you could meet anyone connected to Liverpool FC - past or present - who would it be and why?

Robbie Fowler because he's my idol. Rafa Benitez because I would be glad to talk with him about his Liverpool days. I really love Liverpool FC history so I know many stories about our glory days from the 60s, 70s and 80s, so it would be fantastic to chat with Ian Callaghan, Roger Hunt, Gerry Byrne, Ronnie Moran, Brian Hall, Peter Thompson, Steve Heighway, Alan Kennedy, Kenny Dalglish, Ian name it.

What makes you most proud to be a Liverpool supporter?

There's a lot of things to be honest. At first it was all about location, then the trophies were added, then the great history, the atmosphere at games, amazing nights the club gave me but one of the most important of all is the community and people related to the club. There's a lot of people I've met because of Liverpool FC and many of them became my mates. They live all around the world (mostly in England) and they're really passionate about the club. I'm proud to be one of them. And last, but not least, there's the dignity and behaviour of the families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and their search for truth and justice. They make me really proud.

Finally, what does 'the Liverpool way' mean to you?

It's a really complex question. I'm not sure I have a clear explanation even for myself. There're lots of perspectives - the way the club solve problems (both internal and external ones) and the traditions passed through generations are the obvious ones. But here's the most important thing for me: Liverpool FC is a unique institution where supporters have always been considered part of the club. Hopefully the fans will never be regarded just as 'customers'. It's a one big family and for me it's probably the most important part of the Liverpool way.

Follow the new official LFC account on VK at

Previous articles in the LFC Global Family series:

South Africa - Melissa Reddy>>
Thailand - Jeerawan Duangnam Herriot>>
Australia - Wayne Psaila>>
Mexico - Victor Alvarado>>
Indonesia - Andhika Sarwendha Suksmana>>
Nepal - Nischal Adhikari>>
Ghana - Aristo Dotse>>
India - Kaushal Goyal>>
Singapore - Henry Hann>>
Bahrain - Mohamed Ashoor>>
Mongolia - Amarsaikhan Orsoo>>
Vietnam - Pham Quynh Le>>
USA - Various>>
Iran - Mohammad Reza Rahimi>>
South Korea - Yong-Suk Choi>>
Norway - Arild Skjæveland>>

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