Serhiy Rebrov’s Dynamo Kyiv have just done the Ukrainian double, taking back the title from all-dominant Shakhtar Donetsk. Jens Raitanen speaks to the ex-Spurs striker about the conflict-ridden triumph.
They’re back! It has taken newly crowned champions Dynamo Kyiv six years to break the dominance of Shakhtar Donetsk – but, under former Spurs striker Serhiy Rebrov, they’ve just done the double in war-torn Ukraine.
Heroic goalkeeping from veteran Olexandr Shovkovskiy in a penalty shoot-out won Kyiv the cup, also against Shakhtar, causing wild scenes at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium.
The conflict in the east forced Kyiv’s provincial rivals to abandon their own home grounds for the entire season – and many top players to leave the country. But, speaking after the cup final, Dynamo manager Rebrov felt proud of what his team had achieved after a difficult campaign.
‘I am so proud and thankful of my players because they have worked so hard and they deserve this success,’ said Rebrov. ‘We have come together as a team despite the troubles in Ukraine and it is an amazing feeling to finish the season as champions.’
The 40-year-old took over as interim in April last year before being appointed permanently following Dynamo’s cup triumph.
They finished the league unbeaten all season, ten points clear of Shakhtar, claiming their first double since 2007.
Star man Andriy Yarmolenko and striker Artem Kravets led the way for Dynamo, scoring nearly 40 goals between them in all competitions.
However, Rebrov appreciated that it had been a season unlike any other.
‘All the clubs have been troubled by what is happening in Ukraine,’ he said. ‘We had some players, including the foreign ones, questioning their futures at the club. For some time they were not sure what was going to happen. There was a lot of uncertainty early in the season.
‘But now we hope to build on this success because we want to continue to win trophies, even in Europe.’
Rebrov also guided Dynamo to their first European quarter-final in six years via the Europa League while compatriots Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk were surprise and worthy finalists.
Such achievements have helped increase morals and patriotism in his country, according to Rebrov. ‘Football means a lot to Ukrainian people and this has united us during the difficult times,’ he said. ‘Dnipro’s route to the final is just one example of football bringing our country closer together.’
‘Ukraine has gone through a lot of problems for some time now but I believe that one day we will be a united country again.’