In December 2001, only six months before he died, Valeriy Lobanovskiy gave a candid interview to UEFA.com. Forty years on from the first of his two European Cup Winners' Cup triumphs with FC Dynamo Kyiv, we hear again from a coach whose innovative scientific approach helped revolutionise the game and etch his own name into footballing history.
UEFA.com: You invented a brand of football science in Dynamo, with special tests and computers. What inspired you to do that?
Valeriy Lobanovskiy: People would always ask me, 'Why do you turn football into science, what are you trying to do – just play like we always used to play.' But it is not possible to 'play like we used to play' any more. Football is in a constant process of evolution. The last revolution was in 1974, when the Netherlands and West Germany gave us a total football philosophy.
UEFA.com: Some people criticise your teams for not playing attractive football. Do you think football should be attractive first and foremost?
Lobanovskiy: Attractive football? I don't understand this concept. There is not a club official or fan who would want an attractive defeat from their team. Football is a war. Every team has only one purpose – to win.
UEFA.com: So, you sacrifice attractive football for the result?
Lobanovskiy: Like they say, a good sculptor is the one who removes what is not necessary. Some things and some players we have to remove. Anything that does not fit my model of the game is superfluous. For example, one feature of the game is running with the ball – in modern football, you should do this very rarely. The teams that do it 140 times a game are very bad, the teams that do it 30 times are top class. Whoever fails to recognise this will most likely lose.
UEFA.com: It seems you have very strict principles about the game.
Lobanovskiy: Principles are principles, not observing them is careless. These principles are connected with football's evolution. If I cannot realise my ideas, it's not because the idea is flawed but because they are not put into practice properly.
UEFA.com: Have you encountered many critics or dissenters in your long career?
Lobanovskiy: I only have problems with fools – and I don't want to have anything in common with those people. Let's say this interview is published and somebody writes "Lobanovskiy is wrong". No problem, do it your way. I can't stop explaining to people that new things do not have to be popular and even effective right away. Like one microbiologist said: "Anything we don't understand we consider suspicious. But we treat this misunderstanding with a lot of understanding."
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