Andriy Bal

A member of Ukraine's backroom staff at UEFA EURO 2012, Bal introduces his home town of Lviv.

Andriy Bal was centre-back for FC Dynamo Kyiv throughout the 1980s, one of the finest team's of the Soviet era. He won four Top League titles, four Soviet Cups, the 1986 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and 20 caps for the USSR, scoring his only international goal against Brazil at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Yet it was at FC Karpaty Lviv where it all began, having grown up in the shadow of the Carpathian mountains. Bal claimed a second-tier title with Lviv before moving to Kyiv, where he still lives, aged 54, as one of Oleh Blokhin's assistants with the national team. Lviv retains a proud place in his affections, however – he tells UEFA.com why.

The best thing is …
You will love Lviv for many reasons because, beyond any doubt, it's one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine – if not the most. Of course, the main attraction is Lviv's architecture. For more than 750 years, so many cultures and styles had blended here that it makes Lviv really unique. It has a lot in common with the best known tourist destinations of central Europe, like Prague, Krakow, Vienna and even old Belgian and Dutch towns. However, Lviv has its own unique aura, a very special atmosphere, as well as kind and hospitable people.

My favourite view …
The best view of the city is a very special place for me, as my mum lives close to it. It's the famous Vysokyi Zamok (High Castle), built by Lev I, after whom the city was named. Today only some parts of the fortifications remain at the top of Zamkova Gora (Castle Hill) but the panorama from there is terrific: the whole city unfolds before your eyes. It's especially beautiful in summer when everything is buried in greenery.

Cultural break …
The historic centre of Lviv is a great landmark – the whole part of the city is included in the List of UNESCO World Heritage sites. You should go to the top of the Ratusha, the town hall, which is another great place to view the city. Walk along Ploshcha Rynok (Market Square), visit one of the hundreds of religious sites – cathedrals, monasteries, orthodox, catholic and uniat churches, synagogues etc. Don't miss the absolutely fantastic Opera Theatre which is located near the official EURO 2012 fan zone. Lviv's locals adore walking in Stryiskiy Park.

My favourite place ...
The Old Town, especially around the Opera Theatre and Market Square, is famous not only for its architecture but also for its cosy, unique coffee houses. I love to find a calm, peaceful place where I can chat to old friends with a cup of wonderful coffee. I don't want to give you particular tips because these cafes all have thier own zest and local colour and deserve your attention.

A bite to eat ...
Lviv is a perfect place to taste all the best of Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Georgian, Armenian and European cuisine. My recommendations? Apart from well-known borsch (beetroot soup) and varenyky (dumplings), you can try Polish tomato soup, deruny (potato pancakes) and syrnyky (like a cheese scone) served with chocolate or jam.

My fondest memory ...
I often recall, with special warmth, when I was starting my professional career at Karpaty Lviv. I remember one match back in 1977 – if my memory serves me correctly it was against Dinamo Moskva – and I had just returned from the inaugural FIFA World Youth Championship in Tunisia where the USSR had won gold. When the announcer shouted my name the whole stadium gave me a standing ovation. Believe me, it is a moment you will never forget!

Night fever ...
Not an easy question for a man of my age! Lviv has lots of nightclubs and bars that are open until late. Or you can just come to the city centre at night – I guess the Old Town will be non-stop during EURO 2012.

Tell us something we don't know ...
I'll tell you something every football fan travelling to Lviv must know: our city is the birthplace of Ukrainian and Polish football. It was here, in Stryiskiy Park on 14 July 1894, that the first recorded match on now-Ukrainian, then-Polish, territory took place – between sides representing Lviv and Krakow. The date is officially recognised as the birth of football in both the EURO co-hosts. I would also like to add that Lviv won 1-0. By mutual arrangement, the game went on until the first goal was scored – it came after six minutes.

Room for improvement ...
Of course, Lviv is not perfect and I want it to develop more and more. Thanks to UEFA EURO 2012 my city will be much better!

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