Groups of supporters, a politician, and a TV station all piled in to an auditorium in Brooklyn. It wasn't a political debate or a charity auction. The popular Russian radio station Davidzon Radio had run an ad about an event in honor of FC Dynamo Kiev's 85th anniversary. There was no information online or elsewhere, and the venue was still completely packed. Veteran Dynamo fans were easily recognizable with their official team scarves and vintage jerseys. There were a few younger fans, as well. One fellow donned a Champions League cap with an older Kiev logo. Another wore a Shevchenko National Team jersey.
Soon, club Vice President Aleksei Semenenko was joined by three legendary Dynamo players:
Viktor Kanevskyi, former captain and striker, leading goalscorer among Dynamo forwards and 6th top goalscorer overall, 1961 Soviet Top League champion, winner of the 1964 Soviet Cup
Andriy Biba, former captain and midfielder, 3-time Soviet Top League winner, 2-time Soviet Cup winner, 1966 Soviet footballer of the year, currently a scout for Dynamo Kiev
former midfielder, former teammate of Oleh Blokhin, only player (along with Blokhin) to have won 7 Soviet Championships, 2-time Soviet Cup Winner, winner of the 1975 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup, 1969 Soviet Footballer of the Year, 1970 Ukrainian Footballer of the Year
Dynamo's trio then and now. (Bottom photo by Aleks V)
If there's one person who united the three players more than any other, it would be Dynamo Kiev's most respected and well-known manager, Valeriy Lobanovskiy. The latter is one of the most important figures in the club's history. In November 2012, football clubs in three age categories met in New York City for the 10th International Soccer Tournament in Memory of Valeriy Lobanovskiy. Dynamo's famous 1961 lineup included captain Kanevskyi (second from the top left), Lobanovskiy (first from the bottom left), and Biba (fourth from the bottom left):
I chose the opportunity to ask, "do you think there is a team in one of the bigger leagues, like the English Premier League or La Liga, that has a similar playing style or philosophy to Dynamo Kiev?"
After the awe and applause died down, a fan got up to talk about Ajax, but Volodymyr Muntyan had a few different clubs in mind. "To answer your question - I would say Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona...but for today's Dynamo Kiev to be like Barcelona, we need to find a Lionel Messi, a Xavi...
The Dynamo of the 70's was probably most like Barcelona. If today's Barcelona played against the 1975 Dynamo Kiev, we might not necessarily have won, but we would have definitely given them a challenge."
It's quite likely that the match would have been just as Muntyan imagined. He and current Dynamo Kiev manager Oleh Blokhin were part of Lobanovskiy's 1975 Dynamo Kiev lineup. The season saw two European Cup wins and another Soviet Top League Championship. It is often seen as one of the most successful year's in the club's history.
|Lobanovskiy (2nd row, 1st on the left), Blokhin (2nd row, 2nd from the right) and Muntyan (3rd row, 2nd from the right).|
Needless to say, Muntyan was the star of the show. He did most of the talking, which is just as well, as he is a great storyteller, illustrating many of his tales with gestures and, occasionally, swerves and kicks.
It is evident from the way he addressed both Biba and Kanevskyi that Muntyan has always had a great amount of respect for his elders, both on and off the pitch.
|Volodymyr Muntyan. Photo by Aleks V|
As tons of other fans poured onto the stage to get autographs and photos with the already-exhausted veteran players, I realized I was content having had my one question answered. Of course, I had also gotten autographs from Muntyan and Kanevskyi, as well as an official Dynamo Kiev magazine from the club's Vice President for having asked one of the most interesting questions.
It was an exciting evening on many levels, and a rare opportunity to meet former players whose careers forever shape the club's decorated past.
(0:34) Muntyan's goal in extra time during the 1974 Soviet Cup final:
(0:30) Biba's goal in Dynamo Kiev's 1966 Soviet Cup win:
(0:53) Kanevskyi scores the only goal in Dynamo Kiev's 1964 Soviet Cup win: