Blast From the Past
The new faces of football are really a blast from the past.
GoalChatter takes a stroll down memory lane in its first-ever football history segment, exploring the FFU's new President and the candidates for the President of the RFU.
Amid political unrest and campaigns in the U.S. and around the world, two countries are dealing with two important Presidential elections in the realm of football. Today the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) chose the sole candidate Anatoliy Konkov as its new governing figure after Hryhoriy Surkis decided not to run and defend his presidency. A celebrated defender in his youth, Konkov is probably best known for winning silver alongside the likes of Oleg Blokhin with the Soviet National Team at the 1972 UEFA European Championship. Konkov scored the only goal in the semi-final against Hungary, guaranteeing his team a shot at the finals (the Soviets lost to a famous West Germany squad that included Gerd Muller and Franz Beckenbauer). Konkov also won bronze at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Once again, the talented player made his mark. He was the first to win an Olympic medal playing for his National Team while playing for a second league club (Shakhtar Donetsk was not always as successul as it is today). As an 18-year-old, Konkov transferred from his first club to Donetsk because of the geographic proximity. He played for six years for Shakhtar before his spell at rival club Dynamo Kiev. Known as the unofficial Master of the First Pass, Konkov holds four Soviet championships and one Soviet Cup. In addition, he won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the UEFA Supercup with Dynamo Kyiv. He went on to have short coaching stints with teams like Shakhtar and Zenit, as well as the Ukraine National Team. Konkov's latest gig was at FC Stal Alchevsk, a club that plays in the Ukrainian First League, where he was Sports Director.
|Anatoliy Konkov and Franz Beckenbauer, 1972 UEFA Euro.|
|Konkov accepting the FFU presidency. Photo: ffu.org|
In a 2009 interview with Segodnya Sport, Konkov makes an interesting point about how football and coaching has changed from the 70s. He states that the kind of coaching he was schooled under cannot be compared to anything. According to Konkov, there are no managers today the likes of Nikolay Gulyayev, Vladimir Ponomarev, Valery Lobanovsky, and Konstantin Beskov. Today's managers lack the skill and the ability to become as qualified as the coaches of the Soviet National Team. The attitude of both the management and fans towards big tournaments like the UEFA Euro has changed as well. If a team like the Russia or Ukraine NT is a runners-up in the Euro, the players would be praised beyond belief, or, as Konkov states, carried around all year. Back then, however, the response to winning second place even against the likes of a German team fueled by Muller and Beckenbauer was nothing short of wild. Konkov reminsices about letters that were sent in demanding that he be stripped of his title as Honored Master of Sports. It's an emblem of the tumultuous times he lived in, but it's also a reminder that winning meant a lot more to teams who had lived through the hardships of the Soviet era. Many times emerging victorious in sports parallels a victory in life itself, something that might be difficult to understand given the multi-million-dollar stars that are out and about the fields of the modern era.
Meanwhile, the Russia Football Union will hold its Presidential elections tomorrow at 2:00AM Eastern Time. Convenient for the locals and not so much for RPL supporters on the other side of the world. The RFU presents 7 candidates who will be voted for via secret ballots during tomorrow's RFU conference. Voting will take place over several rounds; in order for candidates to move up from the first round, they'll have to receive 2/3 of the votes. The second round winners will have to have more than 50% of the vote, and in the third round, the majority vote over the rest of the candidates. Among the notable persons are FC SOYUZ-Gazprom President Vladimir Tumayev, who is known for being inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for having been the oldest professional footballer in Russia as well as for scoring his last goal at 58 years of age.
|Guinness World Record holder Vladimir Tumayev. Photo: Aleksei Ivanov, Sport-Express|
Another interesting candidate is former defender and one-club man Nikolai Tolstykh. Tolstykh played for FC Dynamo Moscow for nine years, appearing in several international games in the UEFA Cups and the Cup Winners' Cup. He played for the Dynamo squad that won two Soviet Cups, the Super Cup and the 1976 Soviet Top League Championship. After a serious injury led him to an early retirement, Tolstykh remained as part of Dynamo's administrative staff. Since then he has held various duties in the club, including General Director, Chief Executive Officer, Vice President, and President. In addition, Tolstykh served as President of the RFPL (Russian Professional Football League) since its founding in 1992. Prior to winter 2010, the RFPL was in charge of conducting the SOGAZ Russian Football Championship (also referred to as the Russian Premier League). His fellow former Dynamo teammate, Evgeny Lovchev, will be running against him. Lovchev played for Spartak before his short spell at Dynamo and Krylia Sovetov. Lovchev, alongside Oleg Blokhin, was part of the Soviet National Team that shared Bronze with East Germany at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Some sources argue that Lovchev was the first-ever player to receive a yellow card at a World Cup when he was booked in the opening match against the host nation Mexico in 1970. As a coach, he had a brief spell at Krylia Sovetov, where he finished his career as a footballer, as well as at other lesser-known teams, including Russia's National Futsal Team. He had more success as a journalist, working for the famous paper Sovetsky Sport as well as for TV channels NTV and Russia-2. He hosts a weekly radio show on Вести ФМ.
|Nikolai Tolstykh (center right) with the FC Dynamo Moscow squad, winners of the 1995 Russia Cup. Photo: Personal archive of Nikolai Tolstykh|
The full list of candidates, including biographies and more detailed information about the voting process, is available on the official site of the Russia Football Union.