From career salvation to Stevenage to Roma defeat of Jose Mourinho
On a personal level, Khaykin has a rooted history in England, where he played in the academies of Chelsea and Portsmouth but had a Russian and Israeli passport and was never granted international permission to play official matches.
At Cobham’s training complex he played with Ruben Loftus-Cheek (who was moved into age groups), Ola Aina and Lewis Baker, then he played Pompey after a try and trained with Nwankwo Kanu and was behind first choice Stephen Henderson but was never cleared to play.
“It was a passport situation because my countries were not included in the EU. For me, it was really difficult to be that age, ”he said. “I was promised every year but I couldn’t play official matches, only friendly matches. It was frustrating because I was training and playing a few games, but it wasn’t enough at this age. The most important thing for a goalkeeper is to play. They were honest and said there was not much they could do about it.
Khaykin traveled to Portugal and Spain in an attempt to jumpstart his career, but encountered the same issues with his passport. He even went to a police station in Spain to try to get a work visa, but was refused. In Marbella he signed a professional contract but after putting pen to paper he was told he couldn’t play.
“It was crazy. I signed all the papers and everything was fine in the preseason. Then the situation was that I couldn’t play. I had to break the contract, ”he said.
After returning to Russia and Israel, Khaykin was on the verge of giving up until the chance to go to Norway presented itself. He wasn’t the first choice at the time, but he played a big part in their success, which got him called up to Russia last week. He is still eligible for England, at least for a short time, having finally obtained his British passport three years ago.
“I am finally a British citizen,” he said. “I got my passport three years ago and I was so relieved after years of struggling with paperwork. It drains you. So I’m happy. I took the history test and swore allegiance to the queen. I enjoyed this experience.