In profile: Valeriy Lobanovskiy
Sunday, 31 July 2016
"Games fade from the memory but results stay," said Valeriy Lobanovskiy whose application of scientific principles to football made world-beaters of Dynamo Kyiv.
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• Most decorated coach in the former Soviet Union and independent Ukraine and a 1988 UEFA European Championship runner-up as USSR coach.
• Won 13 national league titles, nine domestic cups and two European Cup Winners' Cups in three spells with Dynamo Kyiv.
• Nurtured three Ballon d'Or winners: Oleg Blokhin (1975), Igor Belanov (1986) and Andriy Shevchenko (2004).
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The expert testimony
"Lobanovskiy's influence on me was so profound that I still often see him in my dreams. He did not divide players into defenders and attackers but developed a range of skills in all of us. He used me for pressing and blocking other teams' attacks, and also demanded that I read the game and attack from the best positions. The most important thing I learned from him is that you can only get results when you believe in yourself."
Andriy Shevchenko, former Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine striker
"What he did for the development of football is beyond words. He was always ahead of his time, creating top-class teams first in the 70s and 80s and then in the late 90s. He is spoken about with respect the world over."
Franz Beckenbauer, former Bayern and West Germany player and coach
"Do I consider Lobanovskiy one of my teachers? Very much so. I listened to his lectures and took notes, just like my other colleagues, as early as the 1980s. He was, and remains, a coaching guru."
Marcello Lippi, former Juventus and Italy coach
"Lobanovskiy's teams were football machines that neutralised opponents physically and with tactical discipline. He was a ground-breaker. I was never ashamed to study his reports in detail and adopt his methods. It is very difficult to overestimate his contribution to the development of world football."
Luis Aragonés, former Spain coach, UEFA EURO 2008 winner
The back story
A left-winger with a strange speciality – scoring direct from corners – Lobanovskiy helped his home-town club Dynamo win their first Soviet championship in 1961, but moved into coaching by the age of 30, steering Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk into the top division. Returning to Dynamo in 1973, he broke Russian sides' dominance of the Soviet First League and led Dynamo to continental glory in the 1974/75 Cup Winners' Cup – and repeated the feat in 1986. He died in 2002; Dynamo's stadium, and a street in Kyiv, are now named after him.
A visionary on the training field (where he introduced interval training combining high intensity and low-intensity periods), Lobanovskiy's 'system football' demanded a high-pressing style with players capable of operating in different positions. Players with the right attributes were schooled in his ways from academy age, ensuring the great Dynamo teams could adapt to his brilliant in-game formation changes, with their focus on destroying opponents on the break.
The take-home quotes
"Football is like a military conflict where both sides have the same goal – to win."
"Games fade from the memory but results stay. Spectacular attacking football? I do not understand what it is."
"A system does not guarantee success, but it gives a much better chance of success than making it up as you go along."
"If a player doesn't understand that the most important thing in football is how to play without the ball, there is nothing you can do. You have to do without them."
"Principles should not be betrayed – they should be improved."