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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Lobanovsky remembered
By Dmitry Shishkin

Valery Lobanovsky
Lobanovsky - "a symbol of progress in football"
Ukrainian capital Kiev hosted a football tournament to honour the country's most famous coach, Valery Lobanovsky, who died last year.

Dynamo Kiev scored the golden goal in the extra time to defeat Shakhtar Donetsk 3:2 in the Memorial Cup final on Wednesday.

Apart from top Ukrainian teams, two Russian sides - CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow - came to Kiev to commemorate the life of the distinguished coach.

The high-profile event attracted legendary footballers, managers and politicians from former Soviet republics as well as top Fifa and Uefa officials.

1974-1986: Led Dynamo Kiev to 5 league titles, 2 Cup Winners' Cups
1988: Guided Soviet Union to runners-up spot in European Championships
1997-2001: Returned to Kiev for 3rd spell and took them to 5 consecutive league titles
1999: Became Ukraine coach, took Dynamo to the Champions' League semi-finals

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, was due to open the tournament, but had to stay at home due to health problems.

The first kick was made by Lobanovsky's grandson Borgan and relatives of Lobanovsky received the Uefa Ruby Order of Merit on his behalf from Michel Platini.

Last year Lobanovsky was posthumously awarded country's highest honour - the Hero of Ukraine.

Russian and Ukrainian media are delighted that the tournament, which promises to become an annual event, was organised.

"The idea of holding such a tournament is as natural, as it is impeccable," said Russian leading sports newspaper Sport-Express.

"The organisers have bridged the gap between the different football epochs, they gave fans the possibility to evoke the nostalgia for football, which united us in the past and may unite in the future."

Lobanovsky's relatives and Platini
Lobanovsky's family received the UEFA Ruby Order of Merit

Before the tournament a statue of Lobanovsky was unveiled at the Dinamo Kiev stadium. The arena itself is now named after him.

"We live until we are remembered," says the slogan on top of the sculpture.

"This sculpture is just a part of what we are doing to remember this great man," said Dynamo president and head of the Ukrainian Football Federation Igor Surkis.

"Lobanovsky is one of the symbols of the country and we will never forget what he has done for world and Ukrainian football."

He also said that AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Hungary's Ferentsvaros plus the champions of Russia Ukraine will take part in the Memorial Cup next year.

Before the Champions League semi-final decider against Inter Milan, AC Milan's Ukrainian international Andriy Shevchenko also paid tribute to his mentor.

"Lobanovsky was like a father to me. I would like to score a goal and dedicate it to him. It would be fantastic for Milan and me if it helped us to reach the Champions League final."

AC Milan's Kakha Kaladze, another former Dinamo Kiev player, remembers his coach with fondness.

Lobanovsky was like a father to me
Andriy Shevchenko

"Lobanovsky used to tell me to have patience. He told me that I would soon become much stronger.

"I have no doubts that any footballer who went through Lobanovsky's football school would not be lost in European leagues. Firstly it was proved by Shevchenko, then, I humbly admit, by myself."

People who gathered in Kiev say that Lobanovsky remains the symbol of the dedication to football.

So what made him different from other managers and why Lobanovsky is worshiped by fans all over the former USSR?

"He, already being the established genius of football science, has never let himself look at his players and colleagues in a haughty manner," says Nikita Simonyan, the vice-president of the Russian Football Union.

"People like him do not die. They live in our hearts forever, as live their achievements on the football pitch.

"Lobanovsky has done to Ukraine more then some politicians and diplomats," said Leonid Kravchuk, the first Ukrainian president.

State funeral for Lobanovsky
14 May 02  |  Europe

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