Dynamo Kyiv: 10 things to know

Dynamo Kyiv: 10 things to know

Today New Balance and Dynamo Kyiv announced the release of their new kits for the coming season and its fair to say they caught our eye. In part because, as with last year, New Balance have come through with a genuinely beautiful design, but also because, while we may know them as a staple of European competition over the last decades - there was a lot more we didn’t know. 

And it turns out when it comes to giants of the international game, they don’t get much more storied than the side from Kyiv. 

So we put together ten things to know about the most successful side in the history of Eastern European football, from its inception in the 1920’s right up to the present day. Trust us, they are more influential than you ever imagined.

Founded in 1927, Dynamo Kyiv were one of a number of sports and physical education clubs that sprang up in the 1920’s that operated under the name Dynamo, meaning “power in movement”. While a number of clubs still carry the Dynamo name, none have gone on to achieve the success, or to embody the original ethos, more than the side from Kyiv.

Since its inception on the 13th May 1927, Dynamo’s home colours have remained white and blue, with the iconic Dynamo sport society “D” forming the basis of the clubs badge. The badge also features two gold stars, each representing ten domestic titles achieved by the side.

During the Second World War, domestic football was disbanded and many of Dynamo Kyiv’s players, in an attempt to continue playing, formed a side under the name of “Start”. The side would gain notoriety in the local area and began to play a series of games against Nazi military sides, winning them all comfortably. In the end the Nazi’s could no longer tolerate continually being humbled by the side and many were executed or sent to prison camps. The story of the side would later go on to directly inspire, amongst others, the film ‘Escape to Victory’.

 

 

Over the course of the 20th century, Dynamo did as much as any club to advance the development of football tactics. During the 1960’s, Dynamo coach, Viktor Maslov, pioneered the notion of player nutrition and developed one of the first instances of pressing in football. Arguably his most tangible innovation, though, was the creation of the 4-4-2 formation that would remain dominant for the next forty years. His side won three back to back Soviet Top League titles and laid the groundwork for his successor, Valeriy Lobanovsky, a man who undeniably has a claim of being the 20th centuries greatest coach. 

 

 

In total, Lobanovsky led Dynamo Kyiv for twenty years over three stints between 1973 and 2002. Though his association to the club as a player goes all the way back to 1961, when he was a member of the side that claimed Dynamo Kyiv’s first Soviet league title. During his twenty years at the helm, Lobanovsky led his side to victory in two Cup Winners Cup’s as well as three European Cup/Champions League semi-finals, as well as an unmatched domination of the domestic game. Alongside his assistant, Anatoly Zelentsov, he pioneered data modelling and the use of statistics in football, things that would not become prevalent in the wider world of football until well into the 21st century. His innovations and tireless work ethic led to him claiming a staggering 33 official trophies, the most of any manager in the 20th century.

 

 

Loanovsky’s reign also saw Dynamo Kiev produce three Ballon D’or winners, Oleg Blokhin, Igor Belanov and Andriy Shevchenko, the latter being awarded the honour while a Milan player, though for achievements while still a player of Dynamo Kyiv. A total that puts them comfortably above other historic giants of the European game such as Inter Milan, Ajax and Liverpool.

Traditionally the greatest rivalry of Dynamo Kyiv is with Spartak Moscow. The two sides were by far the most successful in the old Soviet first division, Dynamo having won 13 titles to Spartak’s 12. Having first met all the way back in 1936 the sides play less frequently now due to operating in different domestic leagues but the historic rivalry lives on.

Since the inception of the Ukrainian football championship in 1992 they have won more games than any other side, with an historic nine wins in a row during the 1990’s. After a string of near misses in recent seasons they are the current title holders, having won the 2020/21 season while losing just a single game in the process.

Dynamo Kyiv supplied ten players for the Ukrainian Euro 2020 squad that reached the quarter finals, more than any other club.  With 11 players in total represented at the tournament Dynamo Kyiv had the fifth most players of any club, only Chelsea, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Juventus sent more.

 

 

The side are the current holders of the Ukrainian league title, having lost just one game all season and with the likes of Viktor Tsygankov, Mykola Shaparenko, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Denys Popov, Vladyslav Supriaha and Volodymyr Shepelev all being tipped for great things, the future certainly looks bright for Ukraine’s most historic club.

 

Words by Andy Gallagher

 

 

 

 

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