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Oleksiy Mykhailychenko

Published: Thursday 1 March 2012, 12.39CET
The ex-Soviet Union midfielder on where to go and what to see in "the best city in the world".

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Published: Thursday 1 March 2012, 12.39CET

Oleksiy Mykhailychenko

The ex-Soviet Union midfielder on where to go and what to see in "the best city in the world".

Oleksiy Mykhailychenko won titles in Italy and Scotland, and was feted on the international stage, but it is with his hometown of Kyiv that he will be forever associated. It was there that his cultured left foot was first glimpsed when he wore the colours of FC Dynamo Kyiv, whom he helped to three Soviet championships and three Soviet Cups. After trophy-laden spells at UC Sampdoria and Rangers FC he returned to Kyiv, coaching Dynamo, Ukraine U21s and ultimately the national team. A member of the USSR side that finished runners-up at the 1988 UEFA European Championship, Mykhailychenko still lives in Kyiv – he tells why.

The best thing is ...
Everything in Kyiv is beautiful; I adore this city. It's hard to define. How can you explain your love for your mother? I love Kyiv because I was born and raised there, I love it for my childhood and family, for my home and everything else. I love it for Dynamo Kyiv! I consider my city the best in the world. There are so many wonderful places here – historical sites, churches, parks, squares and streets. And of course, the Dnipro. Kyiv's heart is the historical centre on the right bank of Ukraine's biggest river. On the other hand, the city is modern, with developed infrastructure, places for rest and entertainment, superb restaurants and huge trading centres. You'll never be bored in Kyiv.

My favourite view ...
In spring and summer when Kyiv is buried in greenery, each of its corners is beautiful in its own way. I like the panorama of the Dnipro from the viewing platform near the People's Friendship Arch. Or from the opposite side of the river when you can see beautiful verdant hills with the golden domes of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. I must also mention Kyiv's famous chestnut trees – they are everywhere, and when they are in bloom they make the streets captivating.

Cultural break ...
Kyiv was founded over 1,500 years ago. It's often called the cradle of Slavic civilisations but its architecture has elements of many other cultures. Kyiv's visiting card is Khreshchatyk and Independence Square, which are always crowded because it's a great place for a walk. You can also wander along picturesque streets downtown, and Andrew's descent is a must-see. Of course, Kyiv is famous for its magnificent churches. All of them impress. I guess tourists will be interested in the 102m-high Mother of the Fatherland monument, which is higher than Statue of Liberty. I could go on – about museums, exhibition complexes, squares and beaches, but it's impossible to mention everything. Come and see for yourself.

My favourite place ...
I live near the beautiful Ploshcha Slavy (Glory Square) and love walking in the nearby parks, Mariinskiy and Slavy. They are very nice, and I can't help admiring them. However, number one for me is Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, also known as the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves. It's a holy place. It's beautiful and has a unique atmosphere and aura. This is a place for meditation, reconciliation and purification. And last but not least, Kyiv's Olympic Stadium. It's also a temple – a temple of football. It has a new face now but a very old soul. It holds many great memories and UEFA EURO 2012, without doubt, will be another.

A bite to eat ...
Traditional Ukrainian food is the best. There is nothing to compare with the pleasure of tasting fragrant borscht (beetroot soup) or delicious homemade sausage. Sometimes there is nothing better than a simple slice of salo (leaf lard). Everybody knows about chicken Kyivs and Kyivskiy tort (Kyiv cake). I also recommend other traditional dishes: varenyky (stuffed dumplings), golubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls), bytochky (chopped meat), pampushky (dinner rolls), deruny (potato pancakes), pechenya (roast meat), kholodets (jellied meat) and many others. In most Kyiv restaurants the food is lip-smacking.

My fondest memory ...
Most of my fondest memories are connected with Kyiv, so it's difficult to choose only one. But given that I fell in love with football when I was five or six, I often recall with special warmth, my first visit to what is now the Olympic Stadium. I think I was eight, and Dynamo Kyiv beat Neftchi Baku 1-0. It was a very important event in my life, no less important than my first match for Dynamo, my first goal or trophy.

Night fever ...
I'm not a fan of discos and night life – I leave that to my eldest son. But if you are, you will have no problem finding a nice place to sit down, listen to music or dance the night away, especially in the centre of Kyiv as Khreshchatyk never sleeps. The same can be said of the Hydropark, an entertainment complex on an island on the Dnipro.

Tell us something we don't know ...
When I was a child I got the chance to play with the legendary Makar Goncharenko, who played in the 1942 game between a team called Start, made of former footballers from Dynamo Kyiv and Lokomotyv Kyiv, and Flakelf representing soldiers of the German Luftwaffe. The Kyivan footballers were ordered to lose but refused and defeated them 5-3. Start played 11 matches against occupying teams, winning all of them with an aggregate goal difference of 67-11.

Room for improvement ...
We need more parking spaces! Mainly in the downtown area, because I hate to see all those cars on pavements; it's an eyesore when you're visiting all these beautiful places.

Last updated: 07/05/14 1.30CET

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