Nikolay Lemtyugov praises Sheffield Steelers fans as he confirms he's looking for another club

Nikolay Lemtyugov says he's looking to join another club and has left Sheffield with a bizarre, barbed quip about his former employer's dress-sense!
Nikolay Lemtyugov (with orange hat)Nikolay Lemtyugov (with orange hat)
Nikolay Lemtyugov (with orange hat)

Steelers' first-ever Russian was a popular player, the team's top fifth point scorer and in mid-season he'd said he'd be open to a return.

But that seems no longer to be the case.

The winger made that clear to the Russian 'Sport-Express' website.

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He also disclosed he'd talked to owner Tony Smith about EIHL teams playing in the Russian KHL top flight.

"The owner of the team raised this topic with me. He is a fairly wealthy man, a millionaire, but you cannot understand this in appearance, in the manner of dressing," he said.

"He asked how expensive it will be to play in our league. I immediately said that you should not even try.

"At the level of the English league, he (Smith) does a lot. A good team, a 10,000 stadium is sometimes filled, but for the KHL all this is not enough. Completely different money is required."

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Lemtyugov relished Steelers' skirmishes with Nottingham Panthers.

"Matches against Nottingham are considered a derby," he said. "The noise, they sing songs. The atmosphere is incredible. We have always been told that you can lose to anyone, but not to Nottingham."

There were colourful atmospheres at Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze, too, he said.

But the non-stop programme of games took its toll on the 34-year-old.

Tony Smith and Jonathan PhillipsTony Smith and Jonathan Phillips
Tony Smith and Jonathan Phillips
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He said in the Google-translated interview: "Never in my life have I played so much. I played 63 matches, and there was still a playoff." (That never happened as the season was cut short by the pandemic).

The forward did not refer to an accident involving his club car in November - the parked vehicle rolled down a hill and hit three schoolchildren, outside Bankwood Community Primary, Gleadless. Police investigated, but no action was taken.

However Lemtyugov admits UK motoring was challenging.

"It was not without problems. Once I almost got into a fight on the road with another driver.

"They gave me a small car, but...a manual gearbox. In England, people save money and mechanics (geared cars) are cheaper than automatic. Not inclined in this country to spend money just like that.

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"Sheffield is located on the hills. So on my first trip, I ran into a conflict," he said adding another driver "ran out to me."

He also had to undergo a speeding awareness course: "I had to listen to four hours about the rules of the road."

Lemtyugov talked to Steelers last week but in the article he disclosed he's looking for a new club and "considering options."

The player remains fond of Sheffield fans, though writing on Instagram: "Dear fans, you are truly THE BEST in the league. Thank you for your help, support, friendliness and openness."