With a haul of more than 50 trophies, including 13 domestic championships in the space of 16 years, Ukraine's most successful club Dynamo Kiev rate as a powerhouse of eastern European football. In 2008/09, after a spell away from the continental limelight, Kiev narrowly missed out on the UEFA Cup final after a last-four defeat to league rivals and eventual winners Shakhtar Donetsk, but they underlined their pre-eminent status at home just a few days later, sealing the national title by fully twelve points with three games to spare.
The greatest of the greats produced by Ukraine – the likes of Oleg Blokhin, Valeri Lobanovsky, Igor Belanov, Andriy Shevchenko, and Sergiy Rebrov – have either pulled on the white-and-blue shirt themselves, or directed operations from the dug-out. FIFA.com takes a closer look at the club from the city on the Dnieper River.
Birth of an institution
Dynamo Kiev was formed in November 1927 by Sergei Barminski and Nikolai Channikov. Some six months later, on 17 June 1928, the fledgling team completed their maiden fixture, a 2-2 draw with Odessa. The learning process continued a few days later with a 6-2 reverse against Dynamo Moscow.
Dynamo Kiev grew in strength and experience as the years rolled by, and were founder members of the former USSR league in 1936. In their debut fixture, the men in blue-and-white again came up against their namesakes from Moscow – and they fell to another heavy defeat, 5-1 this time round. Matters soon improved with four wins and a solitary defeat in their next five games.
Very soon, Kiev were providing a sizeable proportion of the players for the Soviet national team, as many as nine on more than one occasion.
Making of a legend
Almost two decades were to pass before Kiev's name appeared on a trophy. In 1954, Dynamo embarked on a glorious run in the Soviet Cup, beating Spartak Vilnus (4-2), Spartak Moscow (3-1) CDKA (nowadays CSKA, 3-1 aet) and Zenit Leningrad (1-0 aet), en route to a 2-1 victory in the final against Spartak Eriwan.
Stamina, endurance, belief, agility and good technique characterised a Dynamo line-up which soon had the footballing world sitting up and paying attention. A process of rejuvenation at the end of the 1950s, when a number of veterans hung up their boots and a new, younger and hungry generation took their place, brought the league runners-up spot in 1960. The crowning glory came a year later. For the first time ever, the USSR title went to a team not based in Moscow.
This undoubted triumph did not immediately usher in a golden era in Kiev, as Dynamo finished fifth in 1962 and seventh in 1963. They only truly began fulfilling their potential on the arrival of coach Viktor Maslov, who led his men to a second Soviet Cup in 1964. The following season, Maslov's team competed in the European Cup Winners' Cup for the first time and made the quarter-finals, where they fell to Scottish giants Celtic.
The achievement in reaching the last eight truly set the ball rolling in Kiev. In 1966, Dynamo marched to a cup and league double, Andriy Biba was named USSR Player of the Year, and no fewer than five Dynamo stars came home from the FIFA World Cup™ in England with bronze medals. And in both 1967 and 1968, the men from Ukraine proved unbeatable in the Soviet title race.
However, Kiev only became an internationally recognised force in the era presided over by Valeri Lobanovsky. In the 16 years between 1974 and 1990, the "Hero of the Ukraine" kept a tight grasp on the reins and masterminded more than 15 trophy triumphs. The greatest of these were a double success in the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1975 and 1986), and the European Super Cup in 1975.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev were founder members of the new Ukrainian Wyschtscha Liha (1992/03). Dynamo at once restated their credentials at home, reeling off nine league triumphs on the spin from 1993 to 2001, with five cup wins to boot.
The high-flying Ukrainians also made their mark on the European Cup/UEFA Champions League. In 1997/98, the blue-and-whites reached the Champions League quarter-finals but fell to Juventus. They reached the last four a year later, but could not find a way past Bayern Munich.
Nevertheless, Kiev supplied the top scorers in the Champions League two seasons in a row, Shevchenko (1998/99) and Rebrov (1999/2000) taking the honours. The renewed success was again orchestrated by Lobanovsky, who returned from brief spells in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to take the Kiev helm from 1997 to 2002.
A 15-year run with at least one piece of silverware per season for the blue-and-whites ended in 2008 when they came up short in both league and cup, but they were soon back to winning ways in 2009, cruising to the league title and falling only to domestic foes Shakhtar in the UEFA Cup semi-finals.
The Dynamo Stadium was constructed in 1934. Following the death of coaching legend Lobanovsky, it was officially renamed the Valeri Lobanovsky Stadium on 15 May 2002. After many alterations down the years, the current capacity is 16,873, although there are plans to raise this to 30,000 and cover the stands in the near future.