Veloso happy in Kiev despite mixed season
© AFP

Portuguese international Miguel Veloso, who moved to Ukraine's flagship side Dynamo Kiev from Italy's Genoa on a four-year deal this summer, said he is happy with life at the club despite a troubled early season. The 26-year-old central midfielder moved to Kiev after helping his country's national side reach the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2012.

"Everything is going fine so far," Veloso told AFP. "Kiev is a very nice and friendly city. And I'd like to stress that Dynamo have fantastic organisation and a perfect training base. I have excellent conditions of work here."

After five months in the Ukrainian capital, Veloso still has no regrets about his choice, even though the club is experiencing rocky campaigns both domestically and the UEFA Champions leagues. The 13-time Soviet and 13-time Ukrainian title winners Dynamo are currently third in the national championship with 31 points from 16 matches, 14 points behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk.

Dynamo meanwhile are third in the Champions League Group A table with four points from four matches, five points behind second-placed Paris Saint Germain and with only a mathematical chance of a place in the tournament's knockout stage.

"I was also excited with the prospect of playing in the Champions League," he said. "The team set the highest possible targets both in domestic league and in Europe. It's very prestigious to play with Dynamo."

Ukraine's championship is quite a competitive league. And most of the teams play a physically strong style of football here.
Miguel Veloso, Dynamo Kiev midfielder

Veloso said the Ukrainian championship was a completely different league than the Portuguese first division and Italy's Serie A where he had previously played. "It's very interesting to play here, though the league differs from those I've been playing before," he said. "Anyway, Ukraine's championship is quite a competitive league. And most of the teams play a physically strong style of football here."

Though Veloso's career currently looks like it is in full bloom, his path into professional football was not silky-smooth at all. At the age of eight he joined the youth football school of Lisbon giants Benfica.

He was dreaming of following in the steps of his father Antonio, who played for the "eagles" and Portugal's national squad, but in 1999 Benfica declined to sign a contract with the 13-year-old Veloso as he had problems with his weight. But just a year later he continued his footballing career with Benfica's city rivals Sporting. His skills set him apart and Veloso became an integral member of the country's youth teams at different ages.

In 2003 Veloso won his first main title clinching the under-17 European championship on home turf. After years in the cadet and youth teams Veloso made his debut for Sporting in September 2006 in a Champions League clash with Inter Milan. Sporting won the encounter, while Veloso was named Man of the Match.

The following year he won his first cap with the Portuguese national side, which was managed by Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari. Italy's top-flight side Genoa lured Veloso from Sporting in 2010, where he played 170 matches and scored 14 goals.

In two seasons with the Genovese club, Veloso played 49 matches and scored two goals before joining Dynamo this July. Despite the fact that Dynamo are facing Champions League elimination, Veloso says that he will battle up to the very end.