Published: Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:56

Vitalii Levchenko

“Dvoechka Leva” or how to get to the Eurocups from the First League

The coach that has the most exotic football biography on this tournament (not counting the German Nikolai Adam, who took part in the tournament with team Azerbaijan and who’s heading India this year) is, perhaps, Vitalii Levchenko. In his native Tajik Leninabad (now Khujand, a city where the famous Khodzha Nasreddin’s house was located) Vitalii made his way up to the local masters’ team – Khodjent (now Khujand) – and played for it in the USSR Championship.

After that a promising young player Levchenko (who was 18 years old) left Tajikistan to join the well-known FC Dinamo Kiev. Then he successfully played in the Ukranian, the Russian and the Chinese Championships for years. Having finished his playing career as a right defender at 32 years old, he started to work as a coach. Now, 12 years after, he brought the Youth team of Tajikistan to participate in the Saint Petersburg tournament.

- Vitalii, could you unveil your secret: how did you manage to make that remarkable transfer from Khodjent Leninabad to Dinamo Kiev?

- That was in interesting story, indeed. I was studying in a sports boarding school in Dushanbe when I made my way up to the local masters’ team. Shortly after I went to the training camp to Czechoslovakia, where I was noticed by the very famous scout from Kiev – Mykhaylo Koman. I think there is no need to talk about the feelings of a young boy, who was invited to join Dinamo Kiev, even if it was their second team.

- How long have you stayed in the system of Dinamo?

- Four years. I had a stable practice playing in Kiev for Dinamo-2, and it was impossible to get into the first team on my position of the right back as there was unchangeable Oleg Luzhny on the right pitch-side for years. That’s why once I got an option to transfer from Dinamo-2 to CSKA Kiev (then called CSKA Borysfen) I was not thinking much. It was coached by Mykhaylo Fomenko then. In fact, there were many famous players in that team in 1990s. Hennadiy Lytovchenko joined the coaching staff, and the team was strengthened by such professionals as the goalkeeper Viktor Chanov, defenders Oleh Kuznetsov, Andriy Annenkov and Yervand Sukiasyan from the national team of Armenia, the famous forward Mikheil Jishkariani from Georgia… I just had to play well in such a great team! And so I did! Now I am recalling those six seasons in CSKA with a great pleasure. 

- CSKA managed to get promoted from the first division and even to play in the Cup Winners’ Cups, right?

- Yes, that’s right. We got an opportunity to play in the Eurocup because we played in the final match of the Ukrainian Cup against Dinamo (that later became the champion). We lost that final 1:2, but it still remains clear in my memory. It was the city anniversary day, the sun was shining bright, and there were thousands of fans on the stands of the Republican (nowadays – Olympic) stadium in Kiev… The game was good and intense as both teams were attacking. We conceded two goals, but then hit the bar and did not score from the penalty shot in the second half. Eventually we managed to score once, but there was not enough time left to equalize. No one said a word of reproach to us, as we were truly fighting against Dinamo.

- After six years in CSKA Kiev you went to SC Tavriya Simferopol…

- I spent one season there. Later I went to play in the Russian Championship for Volgar-Gazprom, Dynamo Stavropol, Spartak Kostroma and Ural Yekaterinburg. It’s very pleasant for me to recall times I spent in Astrakhan and Yekaterinburg.

- You turned thirty and decided to change the Championship and to move to play in China. Didn't you have doubts about such a long journey?

- Not a single one. I can easily and quickly adapt anywhere. So I had no problems getting used to the local football, local everyday life and local food.

- You were playing for the Changchun Yatai FC, the team defeated by FC Zenit in a friendly match recently with a high score…

- Yes. I also paid attention to that match.

- Am I right to suppose that the foreign players were not paid enormously much in the Chinese Championship that days in 2003?

- There were no unbelievable salaries, this is correct. But, you know, the Chinese clubs were always financially stable. My salary was higher compared to what I was earning in the Russian clubs.

- You finished your career in 32. Wasn’t it too early?

- I got injured - crucial ligament… It’s more difficult and longer to recover from such an injury for older players. I faced a question: whether I should do a surgery or I should go without it but quit playing football. I chose the second. My knee got normal over time, and I can walk and even play simple football (smiling).

- Tajikistan U-18 team that you’re coaching is making a good impression on the Granatkin Memorial. But it seems to be unlucky…

- We’re very unlucky (sighing). We don’t convert our 100% chances! But I don’t have any serious pretensions to the players. They are all trying hard. Unfortunately, we did not manage to take a high place on the St. Petersburg tournament. But a negative result is also a result. We got a lot to think about. We shall analyze our mistakes and work further. 

- Vitalii, a not serious question to you in the end. There’s your football nickname written on your personal webpage in the internet – “Dvoechka Leva”. Could you disclose a secret: who gave you that nickname and when?

- It was in Kiev. One of the local journalists used the fact that I was always playing under the number 2 (“dvoechka” means “two” in Russian). “Leva” is clearly taken from my last name. That’s how my nickname appeared. I was not against it (smiling).

 

 

 

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Copyright 2011 Мемориал Валентина Гранаткина / Valentin Granatkin Memorial - Vitalii Levchenko .
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