Despite all that he went on to achieve, the 1979/80 UEFA European Under-21 Championship campaign encompassed a memorable period for Anatoliy Demyanenko. He began with hometown club FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk before his career really took off with a switch to FC Dynamo Kyiv in 1979. A first Soviet championship arrived in Demyanenko's first campaign in what was to become the Ukrainian capital and, turning his attention to the international stage, he capped the season in style.
Having been instrumental in the U21 qualifying campaign, he came to prominence in the final stages as the USSR team conceded just once in six knockout-round matches against Italy, Yugoslavia and East Germany to take the trophy at a canter. "Winning in 1980 was unforgettable," Demyanenko reflected. "We learned we were a match for anybody, and that belief led us to further international success."
After making his senior debut the following year, Demyanenko was central to that success. His 80 caps included three FIFA World Cups and the 1988 UEFA European Championships, where he played a pivotal role as the USSR reached the final. The centre-back also prospered at club level, winning four more league titles and four USSR Cups, as well as the 1986 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Demyanenko, who also had spells with 1. FC Magdeburg and RTS Widzew Łódź, crowned his playing career by returning to Dynamo and helping them win their first title since Ukrainian independence before turning to coaching.
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