Former Dynamo Kyiv youth player Maksym Kazakov recalled the period of his career at the capital's club.
- Maxim, let's talk about the start of your football career. You started your career at Dynamo. How did it happen?
- I started playing football right in the yard. Then I played in the school section. Back then, matches were often organised with other sections and children's and youth sports schools.
My father saw that I was doing well, and when I turned 10, he decided to send me to a professional football school. One day, he called me and asked: "Do you want to go to the football school of Arsenal Kyiv?" Of course, I answered that I wanted to. Then my father asked me to pass the phone to my older brother, to whom he explained how to get to the school. The next day, my father's friend was supposed to drive us where we needed to go.
We arrived at the address, and there was the Dynamo base in Koncha Zaspa. We stood in front of the base and did not know what to do. My brother called my father to ask if there was any mistake. In the end, my father said that he had actually arranged for me to watch at Dynamo, not Arsenal, and it was such a surprise for me.
My first coach was Yurii Oleksandrovych Len. Back then, there were two teams in my age group. I went to a few training sessions, after which I was enrolled in the second team. The coach there was Alexander Petrovich Biba. I had a good relationship with him, he trusted me. I started to progress, and eventually I was promoted to the first team.
- Nevertheless, at the age of 15 you moved from Dynamo to Arsenal. "Did the White and Blues consider you unpromising then?
- No, there was just one situation that happened there (laughs).
- Tell us about it.
- We were with Dynamo at a tournament in Konotop, and after the game the coaches caught me and the guys smoking weed in the hotel. There were eight to ten of us, and only me and another guy, Oleh Bruchynskyi, were expelled from Dynamo.
Before I was expelled, I remember the then director of the academy, Oleksandr Ishchenko, telling me in a telephone conversation that Dynamo coaches would continue to follow me, would go to all Arsenal games and so on. He said it was a temporary exile. In practice, nothing of the sort happened.
Ishchenko also promised me to find a team. I waited for a month or a month and a half, but I never got any information from him. Knowing about my situation, I received a call from Arsenal coach Oleh Volotek and was invited to join the team. Bruchynskyi, by the way, also joined Arsenal with me at that time.
- As of 2012, was Arsenal inferior to Dynamo in terms of conditions, training process and team level?
- Well, Dynamo was better, of course. What I liked about Arsenal was that at that time, many of my 1996 teammates, who were with me at Dynamo, were training at the academy, but also left the club for various reasons. The team was then based in Shchaslyve.
We did well in the championship. We almost reached the finals, finishing third in the group. We were two or three points short.
That year was my last year at the academy. At the end of the season, our coach Volotek was appointed U-19 coach for the successful results, and almost our entire team moved there with him.
- As far as weknow, during your time at Arsenal U-19, you were already actively involved in the double.
- Yes. After the end of that season, the then Arsenal sporting director Vladyslav Vashchuk approached me and said that Dynamo wanted me to play in the final part of the championship. However, Dynamo's head coach Andriy Annenkov expressed a desire to take me to the training camp, so I chose this option.
- You saw Arsenal disband in 2014. How was it at the U-19 level?
- Even before the new year, everyone guessed that this would happen. At the end of the first part of the season, the players of the second team were actively involved in the first team matches, because some players did not want to go on the field because of debts. There was talk of not having enough money to go to an away match and so on.
I remember that I was supposed to go with the double team to an away match against Sevastopol, but the day before the game we were told in the evening that no one was going anywhere and that the club was likely to cease to exist.
- How much have the club's financial problems been felt by the young players in recent months in terms of various domestic issues?
- I don't even remember anymore. When we were still playing in the academy, there were times when there was no water at the base in Shchaslyve. I don't know whether it was due to financial difficulties or purely organisational problems (Laughs). So I got used to it and didn't pay much attention to such moments.
- How did you return to Dynamo?
- After it became known about the collapse of Arsenal, I received a call from Dynamo U-19 coach Ihor Kostiuk and offered to return to the club. We had previously crossed paths at the academy. He was appointed as a technique coach, and I got to his first training session. I had been ill before and missed some time, so I had to get fit individually.
Kostiuk and I got on very well right away, and we developed a great relationship.
- Six months later, you got into Dynamo's double-header. How did it happen?
- At that time, the double team was being re-formed. Raul Riancho joined the first team, and Yurii Leontiiovych Moroz and Vicente Gomez led the double. They were assembling a new team.
"I think we played a friendly against the academy's final year, I showed myself well, and I was taken to the new 'double'. At that time, my contract with the U-19s was about to expire, so I signed a new deal with the second team
- What were the salaries and bonuses in Dynamo's double at that time?
- Oh, I remember, I had a story there related to this issue. When I moved from the U-19 to the second team, the coaches started to sort out the payroll. One day, Len, who was the U-19 head coach at the time, came to me and asked: "Do you only get 800 hryvnias?" I said: "Well, yes". And they started to think of something to raise my salary.
I played a couple of months in the 'double', getting paid 800 hryvnias. Then they raised it to $500.
Initially, they promised to pay $300 in bonuses for a victory. At the start, we won three matches in a row, after which we were told that we would be paid $120 per victory. However, if we become champions, the conditional $180 for each victory will be added up and we will be paid after the season. Obviously, they decided that the $300 was too easy for us (Laughs).
- Which of the young Ukrainian players in Dynamo's double stood out the most back then?
- I liked a lot of them. Bodia Mykhailichenko, Oleksandr Tymchyk, Pavlo Orikhovskyi, Viktor Tsygankov, Kolya Shaparenko, Gio Tsitaishvili, Roman Yaremchuk, Artem Besedin stood out.
- Tsygankov and Tsitaishvili later even competed for a place in Dynamo's first team for some time. Who do you think is still cooler?
- Of course, Vitya. He is more technical. Especially when we had Tsygankov-Tymchyk on the flank, the others could rest on the pitch. Tymchyk accelerated on his moped and ran.
When Tymchyk was involved in training with the first team, it was clear that he was up to the UPL level. In terms of his physical attributes and mindset, he outgrew the "double".
- Were you involved in training with the first team?
- Yes, when Serhii Rebrov was the head coach of Dynamo, the team played a two-sided match the next day after almost every regular season match, or had a meeting with the second team. At that time, it was mostly those who had little or no playing time that played. That is, we were involved in the first team for a day or two. When there were international breaks, almost all of the double team also trained with the first team for a week or two.
- Did the double often beat the first team in these friendly matches?
- No, why would they? Sometimes we had really good games against the first team, but for all the time I was in the double, we won maybe only once. We usually lost.
- Who among the first team players impressed you the most back then?
- At that time, Dynamo had a lot of quality internationals: Aleksandar Dragovic, Domagoj Vida. I really liked Niko Kranjcar. Among Ukrainians, Vitalii Buyalskyi is definitely a good footballer.
- How did the star legionnaires treat the young Ukrainians?
- In general, they were fine. I don't remember any particular conflicts.
It happened, however, when they did not succeed on the pitch, they could kick the young ones somewhere, play roughly, take out their anger. It was a normal practice. Sometimes I had to respond, and there were bruises. However, again, it did not lead to anything too serious.
- Who pushed the hardest in training?
- Andrii Yarmolenko could do a bit. I remember telling Buyalsky about it once at a game. He either gave a pass to the wrong person or something like that happened. Now I've spoken to the Dynamo guys, they said he's changed, he's become kinder. Perhaps the trip to Europe had an effect.
Oleksandr Shovkovskyi told the young players a lot of things. So did Vida and Dragovic.
- Which of the first team players was the most shocking? It is said that Oleksandr Aliyev used to come to training with security guards. Did you witness anything like that?
- Well, when Shovkovskyi came to training on a Harley-Davidson, it was epic, of course.
There was another story. One day the training session started and Demery Mbokani was not there. It turned out that he was late because he was driving his helicopter straight from Belgium to the base, just imagine.
- During your four years in the double, have you ever been close to getting into Dynamo's first team?
- I never went to the training camp with the first team. I took part in friendly matches as part of Dynamo's first team.
- Don't you think you've overplayed your hand?
- I rather think that I did not take my chance to get into the first team. I had to work harder to stay there. I think I had the opportunity.
- Over the years, have you had any offers for a loan or a full transfer from any other club?
- No, I don't even remember any conversations.
- You didn't take the initiative to find something for yourself?
- There were only thoughts about it. We also talked to my father about it. Because a lot of guys from the double then went on at least one-year leases to various UPL clubs to gain experience. Perhaps I did not dare to take this step.
- Over the years, have you had any personal meetings with Dynamo president Ihor Surkis?
- There was one personal conversation. The story was as follows. After one of the games for the double, the guys and I went to the Vodka Grill club in Poznyaki. There, our friends had a verbal conflict with a company. We got involved and ran into a wrestler who was giving us a bit of a beating. I had a cut on my forehead, and Vadym Soldatenko had a broken nose.
The next day was a day off, and then we came to the Dynamo base to see a doctor. He examined us and told us that we had to go to Boris because we needed stitches.
So, we decided to go to the hospital in Dynamo's gear, not in civilian clothes. We were sitting on the floor, waiting for the doctor to see us. And then Ihor Mykhailovych comes in with the doctor and his bodyguards.
We pulled up our hoods, and he came over, lifted our chins and said: "Oh, guys, hello! What are you doing here?" We said: "Hello."
We tried to think of something on the fly, but apparently Surkis didn't really believe us. He sent us to talk to the head of security at Dynamo. He told us right away: "Guys, you better tell the truth right away, because we will check and find out anyway." We had to tell him what really happened.
- And how did this story end?
- After these events, Surkis called us to the carpet and gave us a very good spanking. He also fined us three salaries.
- How did you leave Dynamo?
- My contract expired. I couldn't play for the second team because of my age, and the first team didn't count on me. I got a call from Shabliy (Vadym Shabliy, football agent - ed.) and he said that me, Mykhailychenko and Lednev were going to Zorya. The two of them are on loan, and I am on contract.