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A Russian cosmonaut has returned to the captain of Zenit
A Russian cosmonaut has returned to the captain of Zenit St. Petersburg a team shirt that recently spent some five months on board the International Space Station, the club's website reported.

Yuri Malenchenko, a longtime Zenit fan, blasted off on a six-month mission to the International Space Centre on October 10 last year.

"Before leaving, I'd been talking with a friend about Zenit's success, and he suggested I take a club symbol with me. I took a club scarf. After Zenit won the title in November, Anatoly Timoshchuk sent me his top with a cargo spacecraft," Malenchenko said at a press-conference on Thursday. "Lots of expeditions visited us while I was on board the International Space Centre and all of them signed the shirt."

The top will be displayed in the new Zenit club museum. In return, club captain Timoshchuk gave the cosmonaut the gold top and boots he wore during the team's title celebrations.

"The support we had both in the stadium and beyond it helped us lift the title," said the Zenit captain, adding that, "I'd love to go to space myself, to look down on our planet. I guess everyone has the same dream. It takes years of preparation though."

The 2007 season saw Zenit, sponsored by energy giant Gazprom, win the Russian league title for the first time, ending 11 years of domination by Moscow-based clubs. Zenit's only previous title success came in 1984, when they lifted the USSR Championship.

The club also won the UEFA Cup in May, beating Glasgow Rangers in the final in Manchester.


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