In Dynamo during Lobanovskyi's time, there was one "limited" place: Valery Vasyliovych considered the presence of a red-haired football player mandatory. However, if someone wants to make a joke about some "blatt" in this regard, he will be faced with the names of red-haired players who no one will suspect of being "passengers on a fart". The outstanding defender Oleg Kuznetsov is also among such "big reds". Winner of the 1986 Cup Winners' Cup, who played for the champion teams of three different countries.
Oleg Kuznetsov was born on March 22, 1963 in the German city of Magdeburg (GDR at that time), where his pilot father served in the military. But he grew up in Chernihiv, where he joined the game of football.
Oleg himself started playing football at the local Junior High School, his first coaches were Myroslav Mandrik and Leonid Rynskyi. It turned out to play, anthropometric data also gave hope that Kuznetsov would grow up to be a good football player. But he himself had a choice and at first did not think of large-scale plans for the Game. The fact is that Kuznetsov studied quite successfully at the school - he graduated with a strong grade with a number of "fours" and "fives" (which is the equivalent of 7-12 points according to the 12-point system in modern school).
Moreover, at first the appearance of a capable, strong young man did not in any way cause a stir in Chernihiv football. Oleg played for the factory amateur team, where older uncles were happy to take the young man. The revolution in his football biography happened when the legendary Chernihiv coach Yukhym Shkolnikov noticed the red-haired young man and invited him to "Desna".
The main team of the region played in the Second Union League, its composition included many experienced players, including those with higher leagues in their work history. But Shkolnikov quickly assessed the prospects and began actively targeting Kuznetsov. Oleg performed rather difficult tasks - he could play a stopper, defender, he acted persistently personally, he was not afraid of horse and power struggle. "Desna" was the middle peasant of her zone, but just in her boom years, Kuznetsova reached the second place in her zone. Kuznetsov was already in sight at that time.
The young player, who played as many as 86 matches in two seasons in "Desna", was already on the radar of top clubs. There were various rumors, but when Dynamo Kyiv appeared on the horizon, it became clear that everything was very serious. And the Kyiv selectors were all the more surprised when Oleg refused the first invitation.
Kuznetsov's logic was clear: he is yesterday's amateur, only his second season at the All-Union level, he has never seen the Premier League, and "Dynamo" (Kyiv) has a super team, most of the players are international players. And some of the veterans of "Desna" comforted the young man: "Where is the crane in the sky, keep your tit." They were scared by the "eternal double". His family loved football, but his dad, a Russian, was brought up playing Spartak Moscow.
But when Dynamo confirmed their interest at the end of 1982, Oleg Kuznetsov understood that they would not be invited to this team twice. He consoled himself: in the worst case, he would stay for a year or two and return to Desna, where he was already recognized and understood. The first warnings were confirmed: in the center of defense, the 19-year-old Chernihiv's competitors became more experienced Dynamo players Baltacha, Zhuravlyov and Sorokalet. Around the same time, Yevseev was invited.
"When my father and I arrived in Kyiv, we entered Lobanovskyi's office. 10-15 minutes of communication with the coach - and all the dots above the "i" were placed, all doubts were dispelled. Valery Vasyliovych had such an aura that he was convincing even when he was few in words. "Don't worry," he said, "we're taking you, we're not just inviting you." You have been watched for a long time. We give you a chance, everything now depends only on you".
Next up is another shakeup: a head coaching change. But Yuriy Morozov, whom Lobanovsky advised to take as his replacement, turned out to be his like-minded person in his work methodology. Although the results were not the best, the new mentor continued the course of Valery Vasyliovych and successfully outlined the change of generations. Let's not forget that not only Kuznetsov, but also Mykhailov, Zavarov, Yakovenko, and Mykhailychenko broke into the foundation at about the same time.
It was this generation, already after Lobanovskyi's return, produced an incredible five-year-old, which resulted in the Cup of Cups in 1986, silver medals in the European Championship in 1988, as well as a number of Union trophies (Kuznetsov alone had three gold medals and cups each, awards of lesser value were not even particularly counted at the time).
Oleg Kuznetsov was one of the reliable players of the base, who endured a triple load on the domestic and international arena, in the club and the national team. Although it was not possible without force majeure. So, in the first round of the 1986 season, the Dynamo derby between the Georgian and Ukrainian teams took place in Tbilisi. Gazzaev responded to Zavarov's goal with an accurate shot, and Kuznetsov ricocheted the ball into his goal. Lobanovsky was not present at the match, he met the team at the airport and asked:
- How did you play? Which side scored?
— Zavarov and Kuznetsov.
— Oh, they won 2:0!? Well done!
In the terrible days of Chernobyl, the victory in the Cup of Cups was a consolation for all of Ukraine. "When they took the Cup of Cups, it was probably a joy only for Kyiv and for Ukraine. In the Union, our victory was received rather discreetly, especially in Moscow. We arrive in the capital of the USSR after the final, and at the airport we are met by as many as two people from the Sports Committee", Kuznetsov recalled in an interview.
When the Soviet Union began to send players to foreign championships, the demand for title-winning Dynamo Kyiv players was high. Several foreign clubs also paid attention to Kuznetsov at once (even "Bavaria" in 1988-89), but "Rangers" turned out to be the most specific and persistent. Perhaps the reason for this was a close acquaintance - the fact is that Oleg in the "Dynamo" team faced the team from Glasgow both in the Champions Cup matches of the 1987/1988 season and in the memorable friendly match of 1990 (when Oleg scored against the Scots, and the team from Kyiv won - 3:1).
"Rangers" "led" Kuznetsov for three years. And when the transition became real, in the end they gathered the whole "Soviet diaspora" in their composition. Kuznetsov, Mykhailichenko, and later Salenko. A good company helped the team. In 1991-1994, "Rangers" did not let go of the championship four times.
It's just a pity that the intense 80s took a lot of strength from the future legionnaires. Kuznetsov, who by that time was already feeling the serious consequences of the accumulated injuries, earned the title of the best player of the match in the first game for the Scottish giant, and in the second he landed badly after a push and tore ligaments, which was followed by two operations at once and relegation until the end of the year. In four seasons, he played for Rangers in all competitions only 35 matches. Scored 1 goal. And it is with this goal that an amazing story is connected.
In the Old Firm Derby on January 1, 1994, Rangers crushed Celtic by three goals before half-time, at which point local restaurateur Satti Singh, now the owner of a famous Indian restaurant in Glasgow, publicly promised to name his newborn son after the author of the fourth naked And of course, it was exactly Oleg Kuznetsov who earned the honor of giving his name to the baby with a cannon shot from afar!
It was from Rangers that Kuznetsov was called up to the Ukrainian national team for the first time. A native of the USSR of Russian-Ukrainian origin, unlike many young "rootless cosmopolitans", despite all his experience, injuries and employment, he did not refuse to play for the new national team. Oleg made his debut on October 28, 1992 in a friendly match with Belarus (for which this Minsk meeting - 1:1 - became the first in history), and played a total of three matches under the blue-yellow colors. With the witnesses, which have been preserved in numerous interviews and memoirs, our people from Glasgow refused to leave the Ukrainian national team. Mykhailichenko's phrase has gone down in history: "Have you seen a Scot somewhere in the England team? So why should a Ukrainian play for Russia?"
Kuznetsov continued to play in Maccabi (Haifa) and CSKA-Borysfen, but injuries did not allow him to play well past his 30s. For some time after the performance, Oleh Volodymyrovych even worked as a manager in one of the commercial banks. But still, a famous football player with considerable international experience could not, had no right, stay away from football.
Oleg Kuznetsov started coaching in the army team. At CSKA, he worked with other Dynamo players - Lozinsky, Fomenko, Bezsonov, then for some time he led the team himself as the head coach. And since the end of 2001, he returned to his native club, worked in the staff of Oleksiy Mykhailichenko, after which he began to help Leonid Buryak, and then Oleg Blokhin in the national team of Ukraine, and later - FC Moscow.
Our hero is one of those involved in the highest achievement of international Ukrainian football - reaching the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup (none of the teams of the former USSR was able to surpass, repeating this achievement only once, in almost 30 years of separate existence). Since 2010, Oleh Volodymyrovych Kuznetsov has been the head of the youth national team of Ukraine. Many future "stars" and "stars" passed through his hands, and there is hope that the football glory of our state will increase.