"I’m a lucky guy," Evgeni says.
But how does he show his appreciation? Ivan Semochkin, his former youth teammate, can tell you more than most.
In November, Semochkin’s wife, Larisa, was diagnosed with blood cancer. She went to Germany for tests, and to have the treatments she needed would cost 150,000 euros (about $205,000). Ivan went to work in Magnitogorsk, putting out feelers all over town. The team and the factory were willing to help, but time was running out, and the Semochkins still needed $1 million rubles (about $30,000).
Semochkin had heard that Evgeni was very generous with people back home. He had not spoken to Evgeni in nearly a decade, but he did not know where else to turn. He got Evgeni’s cell phone number and texted him the story. With two days remaining before Larisa would have to return to Russia without having the surgery she needed, putting her life in danger, Ivan got a text message from Evgeni.
"Check bank account," it said
The money was all there.
"Fiction," Ivan says, shaking his head months later, with a wife in remission and a happy 1-year-old daughter, Lubov, climbing all over him.
"For me," Larisa says, "this story is like a fairy tale."”