Dmytro Chygrynskyi is a strong centre half, he is 190cm tall which gives him excellent aerial ability, he also has strong defensive skills and good footballing technique. He has good pace while his dedication and professionalism have earned him respect and strong plaudits, such is so that he is often the first play to arrive at training. The defender made history by becoming the first Ukrainian to play for Spanish giants Barcelona in a record breaking transfer for a player leaving the Ukrainian League.
Chygrynskyi was born in Izyaslav in Ukraine on November 7th 1986. At a young age, he joined the Karpaty Lviv youth system and began his footballing development. After a promising beginning to his youth career, Chygrynskyi impressed the scouts of Shakhtar Donetsk and at the tender age of only fourteen, he made the move from west to east and joined ‘The Miners’ were he continued his development.
The move to Donetsk proved to be a positive decision for Chygrynskyi and at the age of 17, he made his Ukrainian Premier League debut. This however, was his only league appearance for Shakhtar in his early career. Despite showing great potential, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, believed that Chygrynskyi would benefit from first team football and top flight experience that was unavailable at Shakhtar. Therefore the decision was taken for him to move on loan to Metalurg Zaporizhya at the start of the 2005/6 season.
The move paid off and Chygrynskyi moved back to Donetsk after the 2005/6 winter break and began featuring regularly for Shakhtar, helping them secure the Premier League title. The form Chygrynskyi showed in this campaign led to his being a key player in the Ukraine U-21 side, which reached the final of the UEFA U21 Euro 2006. His performances in this competition led to him being named in the UEFA Team of the tournament, and being named in Ukraine’s senior side for the 2006 World Cup Finals, however he did not feature in the competition.
By the start of the next season, Chygrynskyi, despite being only 19 cemented a starting spot in the Shakhtar side, and even progressed to captain, when regular captain Matuzalem was not available for the cup final. After this personally successful first full season with Shakhtar, he was selected permanent vice-captain and played an important role in helping Shakhtar secure the title.
It was however, the next season 2008-09, that would prove most successful for both Shakhtar and Chygrynskyi. Despite an early exit in the Champions League, Shakhtar dropped to the UEFA Cup. It was here that Shakhtar, with Chygrynskyi as a key player, would make history. A successful run in the competition led to Shakhtar reaching the final, and beating Werder Bremen, becoming the first Ukrainian side to win a European Competition since independence.
A string of impressive performances in both domestic and European competition led to Pep Guardiola and Barcelona taking a keen interest in the young centre half. After lengthy negotiations, Shkahtar and Barcelona reached an agreement that would see Chygrynskyi join the Catalan club for a fee of approximately €25 million. The agreement did however, allow Chygrynskyi one final swansong for Shakhtar in the UEFA Super Cup final, which they would play coincidently against FC Barcelona.
After completing his move to Barcelona, Chygrynskyi was given the number ‘21’ shirt; this was because his idol Luis Enrique wore this number. He went on to feature twelve times in the 2009-10 campaign which helped Barcelona retain the La Liga title. Despite not featuring, he was also part of the Barcelona squad which won the FIFA Club World Cup. The season however, turned out to be rather disappointing for Chygyrnskyi and it would be his only season with the Catalan club. With Chygrynskyi not reaching optimum form and Barcelona encountering some financial issues the decision was taken to sell the defender. This was against the will of manager Guardiola who wanted to hold onto the services of Chygrynskyi.
Despite being linked with a move to Arsenal in the English Premier League, Chygrynskyi returned to Shakhtar, who paid €15 million for the return of the centre half. Chygrynskyi still remains at Shakhtar, however his involvement has been hampered due to injuries. He was unable to put these injury problems behind him and he didn’t make Oleh Blokhin’s squad for Euro 2012, he has since failed to regain his place at international level.
Chygrynskyi’s injuries continued to hamper him on his returned to Shakhtar and he could not find the form which made him the most expensive defender in Ukrainian football. He could only must up 37 appearances for Shakhtar over five seasons in his second spell and he left the club by mutual consent in 2015. He then signed for Myron Markevych at Dnipro in the hope of reviving his career.
Away from the football pitch, Chygrynskyi has proven to be something of an intellect and in 2009 received a Masters degree in liberal arts, after attaining a degree in Intellectual Property. His friends call him ‘Isys’ (Ісус) or Jesus Christ, in reference to his long hair. Chygrynskyi is also a keen music follower and enjoys listening to bands such as Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this interest in music has also led to him being a keen guitarist himself. There is also a band from Barcelona, who named themselves ‘Chygrynskyis’ in tribute of the centre half. Despite his fame and the money that comes with it, Chygrynskyi is not a fan of sports cars. His professionalism means that he does not enjoy nightclubs or drink alcohol.
Dmytro Anatoliyovich Chygrynskyi, a defender with great skill, no doubt hampered significantly in his career due to injuries. We welcome him with open arms to the Victor Leonenko Hall of Fame.
Profile by Peter Chymera, committee member of the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club and Co-founder of the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame. Follow Peter on twitter – @PMChymera89