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Forgotten Idols: Andrei Kanchelskis

by Phillip Meese, Last Word on Football

The quality of competition that Manchester United had for places in the 1990’s meant that their squads regularly featured several world class players. Players such as Giggs, Cantona, Keane, Beckham and Scholes are among the legends from that era. So much so that it is easy to forget players like Andrei Kanchelskis. The flying Russian winger terrorised Premier League defenders during his time in England.

Forgotten Idols: Andrei Kanchelskis

Early Beginnings

Kanchelskis was born in the now Ukrainian city of Kirovograd in 1969, to Lithuanian parents. After excelling in football and gymnastics at school, he joined FC Zirka Kropyvnytskyi. Dynamo Kyiv signed him in 1988, and he made his full debut later that year.

Under the old Soviet Union regime, men aged 18 were expected to complete two years national service. Anybody who played football for any of the Dynamo teams (Kyiv, Tbilisi, Moscow or Minsk) was exempt. The reason for this is that they were associated with the country’s police. Two years playing for one of these teams was considered the equivalent of national service.

In two seasons, he made just 22 league appearances. Because of his involvement with the USSR under 21’s, however other clubs had begun to take notice. He won his first full international cap for his country in 1989. In the summer of 1990 Shakhtar Donetsk, the team Kanchelskis had supported growing up, signed the young winger. His first season saw him score three goals from his 21 appearances, and provided numerous assists.

He enjoyed such a good season that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was alerted. The Old Trafford boss had been looking for a right winger for some time, and nobody in his squad met his requirements.


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