Hennadiy Zubov (often referred to as Gennady Zubov) born 12th September 1977 in Alchevsk (Luhanska Oblast, Ukraine) is a pint sized winger, best known for his 10 year spell at Shakhtar Donetsk around the turn of the century. Zubov’s career started at local side Stal Alchevsk who he joined in the summer of 1993, while Stal were playing in the Ukrainian 2nd Division. Zubov was also part of the Ukrainian U-17 squad which brought home bronze medals in the 1994 European Youth Championships held in Ireland. The 3rd place finish marked Ukraine’ first honours at international level. Zubov played in all 6 of Ukraine’s games, grabbing one goal in the run to the semi-finals, which also included a quarter final defeat of England.
Following his success at youth level for Ukraine and 27 appearances which included 3 goals for Stal, both Shakhtar Donetsk and Spartak Moscow showed interest in acquiring Zubov’s services. Being most comfortable in familiar surroundings Zubov chose to join regional giants and hugely ambitious Shakhtar Donetsk in January 1995, a decision Zubov would not regret.
Zubov became a regular for Shakhtar under Ukrainian manager Valery Yaremchenko, comfortable on either flank and capable of scoring some extraordinary goals. At the end of his first season (1994?95) at Shakhtar, the club won the Ukrainian Cup – the first of 5 cup winners medals Zubov would amass in his career – however they failed to threaten Dynamo Kyiv’ dominance in the league, finishing a distant fourth. Zubov’s form for his club had not gone unnoticed and Yosef Sabo gave him his international debut in October 1996, in a historic 2-1 victory over Portugal in Kyiv. His first international goal would not come until at a World Cup Qualifier against Wales in 2001.
After Rinat Akmetov’s take over of the club in 1996, Shakhtar began to become a real force in Ukrainian football, and with Zubov as a main stay in the side, the club recorded 5 second place finishes in a row, between 1997-2001, picking up the Ukrainian Cup in 1997 and 2001. It was not until the 2001-02 season the Shakhtar finally broke Dynamo’s stronghold in the league, winning the title for the first time in the clubs history. Zubov made a significant contribution in the successful title push appearing in 23 games and bagging 8 goals.
As Shakhtar continued to spend millions on players from all over the world Zubov began to fall down the pecking order and in the 2004-05 season moved to Mariupol Illichivets, after 10 seasons in Donetsk totalling 307 appearances and 73 goals (9th in the all time Shakhtar goal scorers).
Zubov became something of a journey man after leaving Donetsk, his spell at Illichivets lasted only one season (14 games, 4 goals) before a return to hometown club Stal which lasted for only 5 games. From Stal, Zubov moved to the Zorya Luhansk a club based in the regional centre and a proud history in the Soviet Leagues, however things did not work out. Despite scoring twice in 11 appearances and being voted man of the match on numerous occasions, Zorya lacked boardroom stability and Zubov moved on again.
At this time he received an offer from Azerbaijan, but again preferring familiar surroundings, Zubov joined local side start up side Komunalnyk Luhansk, where good friend Yuri Malygin was manager. The promising project started well and the club quickly gained promotion, but at the end of the season the club ceased to exist in somewhat mysterious circumstances.
It was at this time in 2008, at only 30, Gennadiy Zubov called time on his career following 384 appearances and 83 goals and 29 caps and 3 goals for Ukraine. Zubov has said he retired early, because he preferred to be remembered as a player at the highest level, not to ride through the villages in order to continue a career. Following retirement Zubov took up a post at Shakhtars academy and is now found coaching the clubs U-15 side.
Standing at just 162cm a full 11cm shorter then Serhiy Rebrov, Hennadiy Zubov could well be the shortest player to have represented Ukraine as a full international.
Hennadiy Zubov welcome to the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame
Hennadi Zubov’s Varenyky Rating: