- Spoiler: show
- For the past decade, Ukraine has become familiar to football lovers around the world as a supplier of attacking players such as Andriy Shevchenko, Sergei Rebrov. But Ukraine doesn't boast only talented attackers. A young center back by the name of Dmytro Chyhrynskyi is fast emerging as one of the brightest stars and will surely eventually ply his trade for one of Europe's finest clubs.
Chyhrynskyi, 22, is a leading figure at Shakhtar Donetsk and for the national side. The 6.2ft tall defender is extremely talented in defence and is also a threat in attacking situations. He is already the vice-captain of his team as he boasts high natural leadership qualities. Recently he was linked with possible moves to Liverpool, Newcastle and several Spanish sides - he definitely has the ability to be a leading player in any top class team in the world.
This central defender grew up in western Ukraine, and played as a child for Karpaty Lviv, in an area where people speak Ukrainian and live a very European style. At the age of almost 15 he moved to Donetsk, a much more former Soviet Union style region, where everybody speaks Russian. But he managed to adapt to the different lifestyle, without any family or relatives nearby. He played his first league match in 2004 and after a successful loan spell with Metalurh Zaporizhzhya, returned to Shakhtar.
He earned a place in Shakhtar's starting lineup during the 2005/2006 season, and never looked back. Chyhrynskyi became the vice captain of the team, had a great season last year and he won the double with the team, scoring several goals.
Meanwhile, he became extremely important for the Ukrainian national team after impressing with the Under-21 team who finished as runners-up in the 2006 European Championships. During this tournament he played despite a thigh injury, which eventually prevented him from playing in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. This season he has continued to impress, as Chyhrynskyi has showed in the Champions League that he is a central defender of the highest caliber.
In terms of qualities, Chyhrynskyi is very good in positional and aerial play, anticipation, and fighting for the ball. He is very strong and has absolutely fantastic aerial ability, both in defence and attack. He has a very accurate long pass and a powerful shot. Previously, he had a deal with ex-team mate Anatoliy Tymoschuk who was responsible for long range free-kicks at Shakhtar. So, if Tymoschuk, with his very powerful shot, considered the distance too long then Chygrynskyi had the right to try for goal. Now he is not used as a free kick taker as this responsibility has passed to some of the Brazilians in the team.
Due to his tender years, Chyhrynskyi still has a little way to go to become a complete defender. He is not so good at winning the ball from opponents with fine technique. This is not a big problem since this is a result of weak oppositions in the Ukrainian Premier League where the majority of strikers are not highly technically skilled. He could improve this aspect of his game by regularly training and playing against top quality players. He is also not especially fast, but his great anticipation covers this.
As a clever and intelligent person, Chyhrynskiy's coolness on the pitch has earned him the nickname "The Ukrainian Beckenbauer." It is worth mentioning that Chyhrynskyi is by no means a second Franz Beckenbauer in terms of level and potential impact on the history of the game, but he is still one of the finest prospects Eastern Europe has to offer.
It is only a matter of time before a major club signs the central defender. Chyhrynskyi's contract expires on June 2013, But I highly doubt he'll stay there for the duration of it.