UEFA's House of European Football has welcomed the new president of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), Anatoliy Konkov, who was visiting UEFA's headquarters for talks with senior UEFA management.
Discussions with UEFA President Michel Platini and UEFA officials centred on UEFA's assistance to Ukraine and the further development of the country's football in the wake of the resoundingly successful UEFA EURO 2012, co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland this summer.
"For me, a person who has spent all his life in football, it is very important to come to UEFA as a new president, and it is interesting for me to meet the people at UEFA who have specific knowledge and experience – I'm also very grateful to Michel Platini for the invitation," Konkov said.
UEFA EURO 2012 is leaving behind an excellent legacy for Ukraine in terms of infrastructure, hotels and transport. "We are actually still evaluating the full extent of the legacy," said Konkov. "We exceeded our expectations in organising the tournament, and what happened has given a fantastic boost to Ukraine – the country and its football."
The FFU president thanked Michel Platini and UEFA for its determined support to Ukraine in preparing for and staging the final round. "There were many tourists who had never visited our country before – and I think they were completely satisfied," the 63-year-old said.
The relationship between UEFA and the FFU continues into the future, via UEFA's invaluable assistance programmes such as HatTrick. "UEFA's help to us through HatTrick is enormous. Cooperation with UEFA has helped bring success to our football. Our association has existed for just 21 years, and we have made our independent strides forward, but the assistance from UEFA remains hugely important."
Konkov and the FFU were delighted at the reaction of Ukraine's youngsters when they saw Europe's leading teams at first hand in June and July, and the association's priority is to nurture the grassroots, to find the budding Shevchenkos of the future. And, for the coming years, the thrill of staging UEFA EURO 2012 has given the association a strong desire to hold more major football events. A magnificent summer showed that Ukraine and its football authorities are justified in looking forward with great optimism.
A former FC Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Dynamo Kyiv and Soviet Union player, Konkov took over at the helm in September from Grigoriy Surkis, who has become FFU honorary president after presiding over the success of UEFA EURO 2012. Konkov began his professional career at Shakhtar in 1968. In 1974, he moved to Dynamo and helped the club win the European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 1975. He also lifted four Soviet Top League titles (1975, 1977, 1980 and 1981) and the USSR Cup in 1978.
A defensive midfielder who converted to a libero, Mr Konkov scored eight goals in 47 appearances for the Soviet Union, captaining the side in 1977 and 1978. He was a runner-up in the 1972 UEFA European Championship and helped the USSR to a bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games. After retiring in 1981, he coached for several years.
Even before the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had made its own mark with a number of outstanding players and administrators. Ukraine has provided three European Footballers of the Year in Oleh Blokhin (1975), Igor Belanov (1986) and Andriy Shevchenko (2004). In club football, Dynamo Kyiv landed the Cup Winners' Cup in 1986 in addition to those twin triumphs of 1975, and have contested UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals. Shakhtar Donetsk, another force, carried off the last-ever UEFA Cup title in 2009.
The FFU was established as a self-sufficient legal entity on 6 March 1991. Until then, Ukraine had been part of the USSR federation with its clubs participating in the Soviet championship; they withdrew after the nation gained independence in December 1991.
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