Roman Grigorchuk may not be a household name in his native Ukraine yet, as he attempts to lead FK Ventspils to a fourth consecutive Virsliga crown, he has forged a reputation as one of the most talented coaches in Latvia.
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Roman Grigorchuk may not be a household name in his native Ukraine, but he has forged a reputation as one of the most talented coaches working in Latvia today and, two weeks into the new Virsliga season, he is setting sights on collecting a fourth consecutive title with FK Ventspils.
"Of course, for any man his homeland is something special and unforgettable, but I will be always thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to live and work in Latvia" explained the Ivano-Frankovsk native, whose eleven-year stint in his adopted country has brought him three Latvian Coach of the Year awards. Grigorchuk first earned recognition at FK Dinaburg Daugavpils, whom he kept in the top half of the table for several years despite limited resources. That made him a natural choice when, in 2005, Ventspils went looking for somebody capable of seizing the title from Skonto FC and SK Liepājas Metalurgs. His impact was immediate and the champions could be set for another successful year after beginning the 2009 campaign with back-to-back wins.
So well-respected is Grigorchuk that he would be a strong favourite to take over the Latvian national team if Aleksandrs Starkovs opts to step down. The 44-year-old insists he is still learning every day, however. "When you start learning you know nothing," said the former FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih, FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast and FC Dinaburg player. "Then, as time goes by, you start to think you know a lot. But you keep learning and realise you still know nothing. That said, I'm more relaxed about football now. Three years ago, not a second went by without me thinking about football. Now I understand you can't let emotions get in the way of learning. Not that you can keep your emotions bottled up all the time. Personally, I can't hide them during matches."
Having won everything on offer in Latvia, Grigorchuk would relish the opportunity to test himself at a higher level, but is by no means struggling to motivate himself with his current charges. "I want our young lads to become serious players," he said. "We have many talented boys on the team and helping them grow is the biggest motivation for me. Last season we played some great football and were quite close to reaching the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. I wouldn't refuse an interesting offer from an ambitious club, though.
Sir Alex admiration
"I'm exceptionally impressed and entertained by Sir Alex Ferguson's work at Manchester United," he continued. "The team changes all the time but he always manages to find a place for young players, to introduce new ideas and produce great results. United also fine-tune many other aspects of their work and it's no surprise that they lead the list of the world's most successful clubs. They're just amazing. I hope I get a chance to visit Manchester United for an in-depth study; that would be a priceless experience for me."