His first stop was with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, where he was introduced to the unexplainable daily occurrences of ordinary life there, which the locals simply shrug off and say in resignation "This is Russia."
It's fascinating look at things we take for granted, such as an ordinary hotel room. In Russia, you may have a very nice room. Then again, you may not have working lights. Or a phone. Or a TV. In one memorable occasion, in Nizhnekamsk the hotel was also partly used as a rehabilitation center and there were patients walking around in robes going to and from their treatments. The players didn't mind though, because the rooms were good and had internet access!
Another difference that comes with the territory are the road trips to the far East, as a trip to Khabarovsk is no less than 4,800 miles, a flight so long that the plane needs to refuel on the way! This leads to another sobering part of life in Russia - the state of aviation, as the Lokomotiv Air Disaster happened while Brückler was not only playing in Russia at the time, but his team flew on an identical Yak-42 model that had crashed in Yaroslavl.
Even on the shorter trips where the team took the bus, the onboard toilets naturally didn't work and Brückler describes a scene of 30 men standing on the side of the road all relieving themselves.
A real highlight of the book is Yuri, the driver Brückler hired and the friendship they developed. Yuri knew all the tricks, which of course included occasionally driving on the sidewalk if traffic got to be too much for his liking. He was more than just a driver though, he was a friend and even bodyguard, helping the players assemble their Ikea furniture if needed or pulling gun if the situation called for it!
One glaring difference between how the Russian teams are organized and those in North America is the Soviet-era holdover of the baza, the team's combination dormitory/training facility/penal colony. The Baza is also a prime example of the way the Russians do many things "because that's the way it's always been done" regardless of wether it still makes any sense.
This style jersey was first used in 1998 and had a long run through 2004 and is notable for it's unusual number font.
After being let go by Sibir, Brückler signed with EC Red Bull Salzburg in his native Austria and is currently in his third season with the club.