On the 5th May 1968 in the Russian city of Volgograd, Yuriy Mykolayovych Kalytvyntsev (nickname: Kalyta) was born. He would later on in his career gain Ukrainian citizenship and become very successful both as a player and manager, something he believes was fate, and has no regrets about it.
Kalyta spent the majority of his playing career in Russia. At the age of 17, the young midfielder joined local side Rotor Volgorad. It was only a brief spell, that only amalgamated in 9 appearances and Kalyta moved away to SKA Rostov. He spent 2 years plying his trade in the Soviet First Division gaining valuable experience scoring 6 goals in 60 appearances, before returning to Rotor Volgograd for the 1988 season. In the same division (Soviet First), Kalyta was now a regular starter and a solid part of the Volgograd midfield. In a 3 year spell, Kalyta made 117 appearances, scoring 27 goals, and in 1991 saw his team Volgograd become the last champions of the old USSR First Division.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, there was also a re-structure in Russian football, and it was at this time when Kalyta got his breakthrough. Russian giants Dynamo Moscow saw Kalyta’s potential and were quick to sign the player. In his time in the capital, Kalyta helped Dynamo Moscow to 2 third place finishes in the Russian Premier League in the 92 and 93 seasons and reaching the semi-finals of the Domestic Cup in 1993.
This short spell at Dynamo Moscow then saw a 26 year old Kalyta move to Lokomotiv Nizhny Novgorod, where during the last few games of the season Kalyta was badly injured in a match against Vladikavkaz. The relationship between these two teams was not a great one, and in what was an ill tempered match, a broken leg forced Kalyta to the sidelines, and he took no further part in helping his team to an 8th place finish. Kalyta went on to say “20 minutes before the final whistle it all happened, the ball was passed to me, a player named Gorelov came in hard and it was at this time I was catapulted into the air and had snapped my tibia. I think the entire stadium heard the crunch.”
The talent and playmaking abilities of Kalyta showed, as although he was injured for the end of the season he made that much of an impact that he was awarded “the best player of Russia” in 1994 by Russian newspaper sports express, to add to his list of 2nd place in 1992 and 3rd place in 1994 of top 33 football players in the Russian League.
Even with an injury Kalyta kept on attracting attention, and after the horrific leg break, he still had 2 clubs chasing after his signature. Pressure from Dynamo Kyiv’s Surkis and Torpedo Moscow’s Valentin Kozmich, clouded his decisions with both clubs offering tempting contracts. Relations became very bitter between the pair as Kozmich was quoted as saying: “What a fool, Yuri! What is in Kyiv? This is next to Chernobyl!” In retaliation Surkis took a different approach. After calling Kalyta he offered for his wife, kids and himself to come to Kyiv, walk along the Khreshchatyk, have a look around Kyiv and only discuss contracts if Kalyta wanted too. He promised that if Kalyta was not interested he would send him and his family back to Moscow that very same day. Kalyta obliged and came to visit, and after a discussion with his wife, who understood what the move and change in their life’s would bring, Kalyta put pen to paper for Kyiv. His reasoning for signing for Kyiv was not about the money but the “persistence of Surkis……. and the guarantee of champions league football at Dynamo Kyiv.” In the end Kalyta received another phone call from Kozmich wishihng him well and respecting his decision.
Having almost spent a decade playing in Russia, he left for Ukraine after recovering from his broken leg, a fully fit Kalyta spent a successful 5 year spell with Dynamo Kyiv. It did not take him long to make an impact in Ukraine, winning Ukrainian footballer of the Year in his first season with the club. Kalyta and his Kyiv side went on to win the Ukrainian League 4 years in a row, twice winning the Cup of Ukraine in 95/96 and 97/98 seasons as well as the Commmonwealth Champions Cup in 97 and 98.
From the mid to late 90’s he teamed up with other Ukrainian legends, including Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebov, where Kyiv fielded a solid team and were a force to be reckoned with in both domestic and in European competitions. This also transpired to the Ukraine National Team, where a now naturalised Kalyta was not only called up to play for Ukraine but to captain the side as well. He made 22 apearances and scored 1 goal for Ukraine.
His Kyiv playing career came to an end in 1998, when he moved to Turkish side Trabzonspor, but this was a very short lived experince for him, and after only 14 appearances in a few months, Kalyta left due to not getting paid. This was due to the match fixing scandals that surrounded Trabzonspor at the time, they could not afford to pay any of their player’s wages. It was in the same year he returned to Ukraine, this time to play for CSKA Kyiv, where he played for one further season before retiring from the game in 2000.
Retired from playing, Kalyta went into management, where his first experience was unsuccessful. As manager of FC Zakarpatiya Uzhorod in the Ukrainian Premier League, his side finish 14th and were relegated into the Ukrainian First division in 2002. From there on Kalyta was given the position of head coach of Ukraine’s U19 National side were his fortunes changed. Managing the U19’s from 2002-05 Kalyta gained respect and experience, he was then moved to U17’s coach in 05-06 before taking charge of the Dynamo Kyiv youth team between 2006-09.
In the summer of 2009 Kalita was given the U19 National side again and it was here at the UEFA Euro 2009 (U19) finals, he took his side to victory beating England in the final. Given the political history and arguments between Ukraine over the years, some Ukrainian may have had a negative opinion on Kalyta, however, It was his comments before the final of the match which would have turned any doubters for him.
“I understand that our opponents have experience and have won competitions, But I declare that we are neither Russia nor Belarus – you will see in our style of play”
And in a post match conference, Kalyta was applauded into the press conference, something in which he was taken back by:
“Thank you. As a rule, you applaud when you are leaving the press conference. It is pleasing to be saluted when you are entering…..”
His achievements have not gone unnoticed and he was appointed assistant manager of Ukraine’s National squad in February 2010 by manager Myron Markevych. Fortunes did not last long for Markevych and following on from his resignation, Kalyta was appointed caretaker manager in August 2010. Since then the FFU have once again called upon Oleg Blokhin to lead Ukraine to the EURO 2012 championships where Kalyta has moved back to assistant manager.
Kalytvyntsev served under Blokhin for Euro 2012 but then furthered his career as he moved into management himself at Volga Nizhnyi Novhorod. He left Volga in 2014.
The Kalytvyntsev name is also living on, with Yuriy’s son Vladyslav playing for the Dynamo Kyiv and being tipped as a future big player for both club and national side.
Yuriy Mykolayovych Kalitvintsev, we welcome you to the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame.