16.10.2020

Andriy Voronin at Dynamo: Captain, lifted team into top four, now an assistant coach

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We recall the Dynamo career of Andriy Voronin, assistant to new Blue-White head coach Sandro Schwartz.

In 2010, Voronin came to Russia after 15 years of performing in Europe. He started his football career in Odessa, but from a young age he went on tours with coaches in search of a club abroad. In 1995, the 15-year-old Voronin drew the attention of Borussia Moenchengladbach. After scoring 21 goals for the youth side, Voronin got a chance to make his debut for the main team and on 13 December 1997, he came on against Bayern Munich. On 2 May 1998, in a game against Hansa Rostock, the 18-year-old striker scored for the first time in the Bundesliga.

A successful start to his professional career was ruined by injuries. First Voronin tore his cruciate ligament, then injured his ankle, and only returned to the pitch a year later. During this time, Borussia dropped from the leading pack  to the second division, and in 2000 the Ukrainian left for Mainz, where he played under the guidance of 33-year-old Jurgen Klopp, who was just starting his coaching career. A year later, the player won a place in the side and at the end of the 2002/03 season finished top scorer of the 2. Bundesliga

He couldn’t manage to help Mainz earn promotion to the top flight, but Voronin himself joined the Bundesliga with FC Koln. A year later he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, where he spent the best years of his European career - scoring 32 goals in three seasons in the Bundesliga - and attracted the attention of Liverpool, but he did not manage to gain a foothold in England.

“For a long time he was in the shadows, but what happened was a lesson”

In January 2010, a 30-year-old Voronin signed a contract with Dynamo Moscow. “I haven't won a single title or Cup in 15 years, which is disappointing, but I don't regret anything, not a single move,” the striker told Championat after the move. “I played in good clubs, with good players who are known all over the world. I met other people, with a different life, with a different mentality. At the age of 15, I came of age and learned about life and football in Europe. And when I come to Russia, I expect to win the championship title and other awards. The club has big ambitions and big goals, and I want to be part of it.”

On matchday four, the Ukrainian scored his debut goal for the Blue-Whites against Lokomotiv, but Dynamo lost 3-2. In general, 2010 was not the most successful year for both the team and the player. The Ukrainian only scored only four goals in 28 matches, and the team finished the championship in seventh place.

The turning point in the striker's Dynamo career was the resignation of Miodrag Bojovic and the appointment of Sergey Silkin in his place at the beginning of the 2011/12 season. Dynamo’s performances really changed: for the first 28 matches under Silkin’s leadership, the Muscovites claimed 17 wins. In the first game under the new coach against Anzhi, Dynamo captain Igor Semshov was sent off and later disqualified for five matches, and Voronin became captain.

“I've never been a captain before,” Voronin said after the match. “Of course, the responsibility is felt. I understand that at times you need to tell your partners, at others to demonstrate by example how to play.”

“For a long time he was in the shadows, but it seemed to me that what was happening was a learning experience, and the confidence expressed in the captain's armband made Voronin a favorite both on the field and in the dressing room,” Silkin said in an interview with Sport-Express in November 2011.

“If I say that we don't want to become champions, no one will believe me”

After serving his suspension, Semshov only reclaimed the armband when the Ukrainian started on the bench. Voronin would not forget the match against Lokomotiv in June 2011: by the 37th minute he had made three assists, and in the 79th minute he scored the 100th goal of his club career.

“I remember that meeting well also because from the 26th minute we played a man down, but still managed to score two more goals and win,” the player admitted four years later in an interview with Championat. “The next day I flew with friends to Ibiza in a great mood. It's funny that in that match, after each goal, Sasha Samedov and I discussed the details of our trip during the celebration - when and where we would go, what we would do.”

By matchday 30 of the 2011/12 transitional season, Dynamo were six points behind leaders Zenit. “If I say that we don't want to become champions, no one will believe me,” the player said during the break before the final part of the championship. “The most important thing is for the players to be aware: these are 12 finals.”

In April 2012, the Ukrainian's goal took Dynamo to the final of the Russian Cup, but the Blue-Whites lost to Rubin Kazan, and at the end of that season they dropped to fourth place in the RPL, one point short of third. Voronin, Semshov and Kevin Kuranyi scored 36 goals between the three of them, with 11 of them coming courtesy of the Ukrainian. Dynamo fans voted Andriy as player of the season, and the Russian Football Union included him in their list of the 33 best Russian players of the 2011/12 season.

In the summer, Voronin played for Ukraine at their home European Championships before announcing his international retirement, and then went on loan to German side Fortuna Dusseldorf due to disagreements with the coach. “I just expressed my point of view and, as time has shown, I was right. I believe that as a captain I had to do it, and I don't regret anything now. Earlier, the coach listened to us, to experienced players, to the opinion of Dima Khokhlov, and we performed well. And then he started listening to others, but he didn't see or hear us.”

He ultimately called his year at Fortuna the worst in his career: 10 matches in the Bundesliga and not a single goal. After returning to Dynamo, then coached by Dan Petrescu, Voronin scored in his first three matches back against Volga, Anzhi and Spartak, and on matchday eight he scored his only RPL hat-trick against Ural Ekaterinburg.

His contract expired at the end of the season, and the club's management did not offer a new agreement. There were options to continue playing both in Russia and abroad, but Voronin decided to end his career due to injury: “I'm not 28 or 30. At those ages you can still take a risk, but not at 35,” the Ukrainian told Championat.

“A very interesting new chapter begins in Dynamo”

Six years after leaving Dynamo, Voronin has returned to the Moscow club, but as an assistant to the new head coach Sandro Schwartz. “He played and raised a young [Aleksandr] Kokorin and [Fedor] Smolov, in his own simple way,” Dynamo board member Sergey Stepashin said of the Ukrainian. “Like Dima Khokhlov, they called him the captain of the dressing room; these are people who with great energy whip up their teammates when they need to.”

“First of all, I want to say that I am very happy to be back at Dynamo,” Voronin said in an interview with the club's press service. “I spent bright years of my playing career here, and I hope to spend bright years as a coach. I start it at Sandro Schwartz's headquarters. We played together for three years and I can say that Sandro's human qualities are at their best. A very interesting new chapter is beginning at Dynamo, and I will be a part of it.”


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