Aliaksandr Paulavich Hleb (Belarusian: Аляксандр Паўлавіч Глеб, pronounced [alʲaˈksandar ɣlʲeb]; Russian: Александр Павлович Глеб; born 1 May 1981), commonly referred to in English as Alexander Hleb, is a Belarusian professional footballer.
Hleb with Konyaspor in 2014
|Full name||Aliaksandr Paulavich Hleb|
|Date of birth||1 May 1981|
|Place of birth||Minsk, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder / Winger|
|2000–2001||VfB Stuttgart II||17||(1)|
|2009–2010||→ VfB Stuttgart (loan)||27||(0)|
|2010–2011||→ Birmingham City (loan)||19||(1)|
|2011||→ VfL Wolfsburg (loan)||4||(1)|
|2012||Krylia Sovetov Samara||8||(0)|
|2017||Krylia Sovetov Samara||7||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 31 May 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 24 March 2019
Hleb's natural and preferred position is attacking midfielder or "in the hole" behind the strikers, but he is often deployed on the wing. He is known for his passing, agility and dribbling ability. A full international for Belarus since 2001, he has won over 70 caps for his country.
Hleb grew up in Minsk. His mother was a builder, while his father drove petrol tankers. His father had volunteered to help knock down uninhabitable houses in Ukraine as the result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hleb believes this exposure to radiation caused his father's ill health. Before getting involved with football, Hleb was a keen swimmer and gymnast. His younger brother Vyacheslav is also a footballer.
Spotted by scouts, Alexander and his younger brother Vyacheslav were signed in 2000 by German Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart for approximately €150,000. He made his Bundesliga debut on 5 September 2000 in an away match at 1. FC Kaiserslautern, coming on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes. Despite only making six league appearances in his first season with Stuttgart, Hleb became a regular at the club in his second season there and went on to establish himself as an important player for the team. In 2002, he was voted Belarusian Footballer of the Year.
In 2002–03, Stuttgart finished as runners-up in the Bundesliga and enjoyed a UEFA Champions League victory over Manchester United and Hleb had become established as the team's playmaker. After team manager Felix Magath left to join Bayern Munich in the summer of 2004, however, Stuttgart were not as successful under new coach Matthias Sammer, having finished the 2004–05 season in fifth place. Nevertheless, Hleb was on top of the assist chart in his last season in the Bundesliga.
In June 2005, Hleb joined English side Arsenal for a sum which had the potential to reach €15 million, on a four-year contract. Arsène Wenger used Hleb at many different midfield positions, but he mainly played on the right wing for Arsenal. His competitive debut was made in August 2005, away to Chelsea. Soon after, Hleb sustained a knee injury while on international duty with Belarus and was out for several months, returning to the first team squad in December, and played 60 minutes in Arsenal's final UEFA Champions League group stage match against Ajax on 7 December. By January 2006, Hleb had established himself as a first choice player and scored his first goal for Arsenal in a 7–0 win over Middlesbrough. In May, Hleb became the first ever Belarusian footballer to play in the Champions League final. He ended the season with 40 appearances and three goals.
Despite a hamstring injury, Hleb made 48 appearances in the 2006–07 season and scored three goals. In 2007–08, he was moved from the right wing and played behind Robin van Persie as a withdrawn striker. When strikers Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo recovered from injuries Arsène Wenger reverted to a 4–4–2 formation and Hleb returned to playing on the wing. His season was cut short after he was banned for three games by the FA after he was charged with violent conduct in an incident with Graeme Murty of Reading during their 2–0 win. Hleb admitted his offence, ending his season.
Hleb was always a popular figure at Arsenal, and the fans reciprocated the effort he brought to the team by inventing a song to the tune of Johnnie Allan's Rubber Dolly, "Alexander Hleb, Alexander Hleb, He's good at football, Alexander Hleb".
On 16 July 2008, a medical examination was held for the player at FC Barcelona, with his transfer completed later that day for a fee of €15 million plus an additional €2 million if Barcelona won the La Liga title in 2008–09 or 2009–10 (which they did in 2008–09, bringing his total fee to €17 million). Hleb signed a four-year contract with a buy-out clause of €90 million.
In March 2009, after featuring irregularly for the team – starting only five games in La Liga – Hleb admitted that he would readily accept an offer from Bayern Munich, if such an opportunity arose in the summer. He said, "I am right in the best years of my career and I do not want to spend those years on bench. Bayern Munich is a special club, their interest in me is a delightful honour. Bayern is among the best teams in the world."
Hleb went on to win the 2008–09 treble with Barcelona in his first season with the club. Hleb featured briefly in the Copa del Rey final but did not play when Barcelona went on to beat Manchester United 2–0 in the Champions League final.
In July 2009, Hleb returned to VfB Stuttgart on a one-year loan. Hleb played 55 minutes in the first game of the 2009–10 Bundesliga season, away to VfL Wolfsburg, a match Stuttgart lost 2–0. Then, after playing in Stuttgart's 4–2 victory over SC Freiburg, Hleb scored his first goal for Stuttgart, during a Champions League qualifier against Timișoara in a 2–0 away win for the German side.
On 31 August 2010, Hleb returned to England by signing a season-long loan deal with Premier League club Birmingham City. An ankle injury sustained on international duty delayed his debut until 18 September, when he played 83 minutes in a 3–1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion. Three days later, he opened the scoring as Birmingham beat Milton Keynes Dons 3–1 in the League Cup. Injury disrupted his season, forcing him to miss Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the League Cup final. Towards the end of the season, he ruled out a return to the club once his loan expired, suggesting that their style of football was not to his taste, although he wanted to remain in the Premier League, ideally at Arsenal.
On 31 August 2011, Hleb was loaned out to VfL Wolfsburg. Again, injury disrupted his stay at Wolfsburg, making only one start and three appearances as a substitute. The club confirmed he would leave at the scheduled end of the loan on 31 December 2011.
Krylia Sovetov SamaraEdit
After Hleb's contract with Barcelona was cancelled by mutual consent during the January 2012 transfer window, he signed for Russian Premier League club Krylia Sovetov Samara until the end of the season.
Return to BATE BorisovEdit
On 26 July 2012, Hleb signed a contract with BATE Borisov and won the 2012 Belarusian Premier League in his return season. Hleb stated before BATE's 3–1 win against Bayern Munich that he expected the great performances of his team in the Champions League could help him to earn a move abroad, with the player wanting a move to a Bundesliga club. However, he remained playing for BATE in the 2013 season.
Hleb won over 20 caps for the Belarus under-21 side. He made his full international debut as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat against Wales in 2001. He scored on his second international start in a 5–2 victory over Hungary in April 2002. In November 2006, former Belarusian captain Sergei Gurenko launched a vicious criticism on Hleb for not working hard in national team settings. Hleb, however, rejected any suggestion that he was a "prima donna". In August 2007, new national team manager Bernd Stange made him team captain despite the criticism. On 22 August, Hleb wore the captain's armband for the first time in a 2–1 win against Israel.
Hleb was called "Zauberlehrling" or "Sorcerer's Apprentice" for his silky skills and dazzling tricks in Germany when he played in the Bundesliga.
His younger brother Vyacheslav is also a footballer.
Hleb was married to Anastasia Kosenkova, ex-singer of the Belarusian pop group Topless, from 2008 until 2014.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Continental||Other||Total|
|Dinamo-Juni Minsk||1998||First League||11||1||–||–||–||11||1|
|BATE Borisov||1999||Premier League||13||1||–||–||–||13||1|
|VfB Stuttgart (loan)||2009–10||Bundesliga||27||0||1||0||–||8||1||–||36||1|
|Birmingham City (loan)||2010–11||Premier League||19||1||0||0||1||1||–||–||20||2|
|VfL Wolfsburg (loan)||2011–12||Bundesliga||4||1||0||0||–||0||0||–||4||1|
|Krylia Sovetov||2011–12||Premier League||8||0||0||0||–||–||–||8||0|
|BATE Borisov||2012||Premier League||6||0||0||0||–||10||0||–||16||0|
|BATE Borisov||2015||Premier League||4||0||1||0||–||7||0||–||12||0|
|BATE Borisov||2016||Premier League||6||0||0||0||–||3||0||–||9||0|
|Krylia Sovetov||2016–17||Premier League||7||0||0||0||–||–||–||7||0|
|BATE Borisov||2018||Premier League||15||0||0||0||–||0||0||–||2||0|
|BATE Borisov||2018||Premier League||1||0||0||0||–||0||0||–||2||0|
|1.||17 April 2002||Oláh Gábor utcai Stadion, Debrecen, Hungary||Hungary||1–1||5–2||Friendly|
|2.||19 May 2002||Central Dynamo Stadium, Moscow, Russia||Ukraine||2–0||2–0|
|3.||9 February 2005||Dyskobolia Stadium, Grodzisk Wielkopolski, Poland||Poland||1–0||3–1|
|4.||16 August 2006||Dinamo Stadium, Minsk, Belarus||Andorra||1–0||3–0|
|5.||1 April 2009||Almaty Central Stadium, Almaty, Kazakhstan||Kazakhstan||1–1||5–1||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 6|
|6.||3 March 2010||Antalya Atatürk Stadium, Antalya, Turkey||Armenia||2–1||3–1||Friendly|
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While at Birmingham, he received a winner's medal in the 2011 League Cup, but missed the final through injury.
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