Saturday, 26 October 2013


Home 2004-06; Lotto

Officially, Ukraine football came into being in 1991 following the collapse of the USSR and the independence of the Ukrainian state.  The formation of a national football association can be seen as two-fold.  Initially, an Association was created in March of that year, but this was still heavily linked to the Football Federation of the Soviet Union (FFSU).  The following December, the Association followed in the national lead, and declared itself independent from the FFSU.  Thus, a truly independent governing body was formed in the country.  In early 1992, they were accepted into both UEFA and FIFA in 1992.

However, Ukraine national teams did exist prior to this.  The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, to give it its full title, played matches against other Soviet republics within the USSR, as well as games against touring sides.  Notably, they reached the final of a Soviet Championship in 1928, beating Belarus and Transcaucasia before losing to Moscow in said final. Aside from these games, Ukrainian players represented the USSR until its collapse.  Even after the independence of Ukraine, some players who had already been playing for the USSR continued to play for the new ‘Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)’ national team and then ‘Russia’, which was sanctioned as the official successors to the USSR.  Of these, perhaps Andrei Kanchelskis is most famous.  Despite being of Ukrainian origin, he chose to play with CIS and then Russia.  Conversely, Yuriy Nikiforov played for all three.  In 1992, he lined out four times for CIS, before playing a further three games for Ukraine in the same year. Despite this, he went on to play for Russia in 1993 and represented them until his retirement. 

With official recognition of Russia as the successor to USSR, came the controversial decision to award all UEFA coefficient points to them, despite the massive role played by Ukrainian players (7 of the 11 who started the final of Euro ’88 were Ukrainian).  Essentially, this meant that the new Ukraine began from scratch for their national teams and league. 

This stumbling block was overcome, most notably by a Dynamo Kiev team which stared in European competition in the mid-90s, fired on by players such as Andrei Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov. On the international stage, the wait was a little longer.  It was not until 2006 that the team first qualified for a major tournament, the World Cup.  Indeed, this is the tournament that this short was worn.  In this way, I am glad to have a little piece of history (similar to the last ever Yugoslav shirt here).   And when they finally did make their appearance, it wasn’t just to make up the numbers.  Wins over  Tunisia and Saudi Arabia made up for a hammering at the hands of Spain, and saw them through to the last 16, where they beat Switzerland on penalties.  In the quarter-finals, they lost 3-0 to Italy, but could take some consolation in seeing the Italians go all the way and win the tournament.

It would be 2012, before Ukraine reached another tournament, and this time qualification wasn’t needed as they co-hosted the European Championships with neighbours, Poland.  Sadly, they failed to make it out of their group on home soil.  Arguably, the lasting impression of Ukraine from this competition was lightning storm which lit up their game against France, and caused the referee to suspend the game for some time.  At the time of writing this post, these two teams are set to play each other once more, this time in a play-off for qualification to the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Let’s go back to 2006 though, and talk about this shirt.  It is one I had always admired so was delighted to pick it up a while ago. It is a very nice shade of yellow, and the blue flashes have always reminded me of a bumble-bee (if you see it too, let me know).  In pictures, I thought the material would be very shiny, but in the flesh it actually has quite a matte finish.  Two things let it down slightly though. First, the crest is sewn on, rather than heat-pressed or embroidered.  This is the case with many Lotto shirts around this time, and is a shame as it makes it look a little cheap.  This template was given a lot of air-time by Lotto, so no surprise than they just sewed on the required crests.  The crest itself is actually a great one, if a little odd looking.  It features the national symbol, the tryzub, which has baffled historians over what it actually is (see Wikipedia article here), sitting atop a football.

The other draw-back, in my opinion, is the red logos on the sleeve.  I know red is Lotto’s primary colour for their logo, but it would have looked much better in blue, if it had to be there at all. The neckline features the Ukrainian flag, but could be mistaken for a random blue bar given that the rest of the colour is also yellow.  The fit is excellent.

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