Murtaz Kalistratovich Khurtsilava was honored in 2003 by the Georgian Football Association (FFG) as the best football player in Georgia in the second half of the 20th century. Subsequently, FFG carried out an expert survey on behalf of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) and appointed the best Georgian footballer of the past fifty years.
The results of the survey surprised no one: After all, Khurtsilava was in the 1960s and 70s, one of the best players in the USSR of the second half of the 20th century and one of the best defenders in Europe. He repeatedly entered the list of symbolic men of the USSR of all times, which was compiled in the 1970-1990s by various sports publications. In 1972, Murtaz was included in the emblematic European team and this year was Vice-European champion and bronze medalist of the Olympic Games. He was twice recognized as the second football player of the USSR (1967 and 1968), once – the third (1972), ten times in the list of the 33 best football players of the USSR, of which 5 were in the first number in his position.
Anyone who has ever seen Khurtsilava's game or parts of games with his participation will understand how strong he was: He excelled in universal football skills (both in defense and in midfield and in attack), and had a fighting character and always led Tbilisi Dynamo And the national team of the USSR storms in the most hopeless situations. Murtaz was not only a footballer of international caliber, but also one of the leaders and captains of Dynamo Tbilisi and the USSR team.
Some of the specialists and fans of football called Hurtsilava "a tank", others "a tiger". Without exception, everyone noted to the last minute his outstanding technical ability and his fantastic will to win and his dedicated game – such features are rarely combined by modern football players.
These fighting qualities were developed in the village of Bandza in the Martvili region (then Hegechkor) in Georgia, where he was born and raised (January 1943). Khurtsilava told the author of these lines that his father Kalistrata (director of the village school in Bandze) as a child was against his passion for football and had dreamed that his son should devote himself entirely to study. However, when he saw the great play of the boy and the fact that Murtaza was invited to the regional team "Salkhino" Gegechkori (participant of the Georgian championship) at the age of 15, his father was satisfied with the choice of his son. Two years later, Andro Zhordania, an outstanding coach of Tbilisi Dynamo, drew his attention to Murtaz and appeared in early 1961 in the main team of Georgia, where he played in the years 1961 to 1975. In the 1960s, Dynamo played lively at the USSR Championships with stars such as Mikhail Meskhi, Shota Yamanidze, Vladimir Barkaya, Sergo Kotrikadze, Georgy Sichinava and 1963 Slava Metreveli.
Murtaz played from 1964 to 1974 for the national team of the USSR and spent 70 games in its composition. Without the injury, there could have been more. He also spent 13 games for the Olympic team of the USSR. During his 15 years at Dynamo Tbilisi and in the USSR national team, he received only two warnings. "I am proud that I was captain of Dynamo Tbilisi and the USSR national team, that after leaving the national team of the famous defender and my friend Albert Shesternev (end of 1971. – Rough author), the entire team unanimously captained me USSR national team has chosen until In the last two years I was the vice captain of the national team. I am proud that Alexander Chivadze (captain of the USSR 1981/84 – Unknown Author) received the award later, "Murtaz Kalistratovich said.
According to him, "It was not easy to play in the USSR national team – after all, the best players from different republics, who had their own style of play, joined the national team and, therefore, not all the stars managed to get on top in the national team to be." He said that the USSR team reached the semi-finals in 1966 at the World Cup in England and received small bronze medals for the 4th place, "but had the chance to get even better". "And in 1970, at the World Cup in Mexico, the USSR team conceded an unlucky Uruguayan goal in the last minute of the 1/4 final that gave the USSR the right to reach the semi-finals," recalls Murtaz Kalistratovich.
The legendary Georgian footballer has always had a phenomenal memory, and it is not surprising that he remembers the matches between Dynamo Tbilisi and the then Kazakhstan captain – Almaty Kairat.
– Batono Murtaz! They once said that Kairat was an unpleasant rival for both Dynamo Tbilisi and a number of other leading USSR championship clubs. Why?
– If you look at the statistics of the matches between Tbilisi Dynamo and Kairat in the USSR Championship, then the Georgian team is a clear advantage (Dynamo has won in 45 games, 16 draws and 7 Kairat victories – Unknown author). But do not let these numbers mislead anyone. The games with Kairat, especially in Almaty, were very interesting and intense. Take, for example, the year 1964, when the Dynamo Tbilisi became USSR champion for the first time (the team was twice USSR champion: 1964 and 1978. – Unknown author). In May 1964, our team managed to equalize and avoid a last-minute defeat with a full home in Dynamo Stadium (then 40,000 spectators). The game ended in a draw with 2: 2. I did not play that day, but I remember that Oleg Maltsev (both goals), Timur Segizbaev and Leonid Ostroushko played brilliantly in the Kairat. The return leg in Almaty with full stadium also ended in a draw – 0: 0. But in Dynamo Tbilisi there were outstanding champions – Metreveli, Meskhi, Barkai, Sichinava (USSR team players), Ilya Datunashvili, Yamanidze and others.
"I remember Kazakhstan well, I know a lot about those of my colleagues who have been to Kazakhstan in recent years."
– Why was not it easy for Dynamo Tbilisi to beat Kairat, who was not a leader at the time? Have you underestimated your opponent?
"Well, you, what an underestimate?" We prepared ourselves carefully for all matches of the USSR Championship, regardless of which place the opponent took. After all, in my opinion, the USSR Championship in terms of competition and team training was one of the strongest in Europe in the 60-70s. The secret is that the Dynamo Tbilisi has always played technical, elegant football for which we have always been loved. Almost everywhere, even in Almaty, there was often a full house at the games with the main team of Georgia, then we were called "Georgian Brazilians". This atmosphere shaped the game of the rivals, including Kairat, who wanted to show his fans what it is capable of. "Kairat" has always had cool footballers. To do this we need to add the fighting qualities of the Kazakh team and the strong support of the audience in Alma-Ata. Therefore, the games of our teams, especially in Alma-Ata, were always very, very difficult for us.
– That's why "Kairat" beat Dynamo Tbilisi (5-0) at home in June 1974. What happened then?
– It would be better if you remembered how I scored goals for Kairat and other teams as a defender (laughs).
– Here we come, Batono Murtaz. I was very young, but I remember Hurtsilava's goals against the opponents, and as a commentator I compared you to a tiger that rammed the opponents' defense. But later, back to 1974. In fact, the 0-0 defeat of Almaty in Georgia was very painful, and in Kazakhstan it was a public holiday – only a few managed to defeat Dynamo Tbilisi with such a record.
– Let's start with the fact that in 1974 in Dynamo Tbilisi a generation change took place. It was not an easy time for the team because this year Dynamo Tbilisi took an unusually low ninth place in the championship standings. In this match in Almaty I did not play – I was injured. Our team did not have the main goalkeeper David Gogia that day, there was no injured David Kipiani. "Kairat" played brilliantly that day Anatoly Ionkin, who scored a hat-trick, Vladimir Chebotarev scored two goals. The defense of Kairat and goalkeeper Kuralbek Ordabaev, who managed to keep his gate dry, played perfectly. "Kairat" that day everything went well, the dynamo – nothing. That happens sometimes in football. Incidentally, Kairat finished in 15th place in 1974 (there were a total of 16 participants) and left the main league, while Dynamo Tbilisi took the ninth place.
– And now to your kairatu goals! In fact, the defenders do not often meet opponents.
– In my childhood and youth, I played in the Georgia Championship either as a forward or as an attacking midfielder. Once when I was in Georgia's youth team, I had to play on the defensive several times because of the injury of one of our defenders. This continued in Dynamo Tbilisi. During the attack, the Dynamo team had many experienced and strong attacking players, the defense needed help, and the head coach of the team, an outstanding specialist and honored USSR coach, Andro Zhordania (1904-1974), decided to put me on the defensive but during his career, both at Dynamo and in the USSR national team, he was often associated with the attacks, either gave the guys passes or scored, they say good goals (laughs).
As for the goals of Kairatu: In 1968, the Kazakh team arrived after the sensational home victory of Kairat over Moscow's torpedo in Tbilisi and was in a good mood. From the start, I've been involved in the attacks a few times, and in one episode, I was shot down in the Kairat penalty area. Meskhi hit a penalty, and goalkeeper Vyacheslav Bubenets managed to hit the ball, but Gocha Gavasheli ran up and sent the ball into the net. After 10 minutes, having received a great pass from Meskhi, I decided to break through the goal, the shot proved to be strong and the ball was in the net. The efforts of Viktor Abgolts and Timur Segizbayev made for a few moments at our goal, but our defense (Revaz Dzodzuashvili, Piruz Kanteladze, me and Guram Petriashvili) did not allow the guests to score a goal against to achieve us.
And for the second time in 1973, I scored a goal for Kairat. It was not easy to win in Tbilisi: Ordabaev played perfectly at the gates of the Kazakh team, defender Seilda Bayshakov's signature was already in the defense, the well-known Nikolai Osyanin, Yuri Semin , Anatoly Ionkin played in front of everyone but that day the Dynamo were better. I opened an account right at the start of the game, then Vova Gutsaev doubled the result and in the second half Givi Nodia broke it.
I would like to point out once again that the games with Kairat always took place in a sporty and tense manner and gave the spectators great pleasure. Outside the field, as a player, we have always maintained good relationships. I remember well Kazakhstan, I know a lot about those of my colleagues who have been to Kazakhstan in recent years. On this occasion, I would like to convey my best wishes to Kazakh football veterans and young athletes and wish them good luck.
About matches with Müller, Eusebio and Pelé
During a match between the national teams of the Dynamo clubs of the USSR and the world team – it was a game of the wires of the legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin (1929-1990) – Murtaz did not allow the famous shooter of the German national team Gerd Müller, a goal against Yashin to achieve. "One minute before the start of the game, Lev Ivanovich whispered to me: Murtaz, Mueller said he respects me, but he will score for me today, I beg you – do not give him a chance," recalls the veteran, noting that he "fulfilled Yashin's request."
Murtaz, who after 25 years as a football player has been head coaching in Georgian clubs, including Dynamo Tbilisi, as well as the country's youth team and the assistant coach of the Georgian national team, notes that "he does not really like what is now, coach in many countries the initiative of talented players often hampers. "" But the attraction of football is improvisation rather than memorized combinations, "he said, calling on the coaches" not to restrict young players in improvisation. "
The veteran notes that he had "the good fortune" to play against the legendary Portuguese footballer Eusebio, once against the "king of football", the Brazilian Pele, and several times against the top scorer of the German national team, Gerd Müller.
"For the first time I played in England in 1966 at the World Cup against Eusebio, when the USSR team met Portugal in the match for third place (1: 2). The match was a football match between the two teams, which was particularly reminiscent of the amazingly beautiful match of Eusebio, the virtuoso of football. We, the players, have respected him for his bright, technical play and his intelligent behavior, "said Hurtsilava. The second time against Eusebio Murtaz in 1971 had the opportunity to speak in Moscow at the match of Yashin's wires. "This game ended in a draw – 2: 2, and Eusebio again made a very solid impression. After the match at a banquet, I happened to be sitting at a table opposite the Portuguese. Eusebio was impressed with his modesty because he was one of the best players in the world at the time, "said Hurtsilava.
"Most teams do not have the beauty of the game, the football romance and the technology. This bothers fans and football professionals. "
And against Pele Murtaz he happened to play in November 1965 in the away game of the USSR national team against Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro in the famous stadium "Maracana" ended the meeting of the Soviet Union with the hosts in a draw (2: 2). In the second half Hurtsilava entered the field. "I played this game after injury, Anatoly Banishevsky and Slava Metreveli scored goals in the brakes of Brazil, and a draw in their away game with reigning World Champion Brazil was a success," said 77-year-old Hurtsilava.
Khurtsilava always disagreed when it came to assessing the processes in world football. He believes that "in recent years the general level of the national team game has declined". "One of the reasons for this is the commercialization of football, fabulous and inadequate contracts in clubs for which many players and coaches are only interested in scores and stats. Football players and coaches should not forget that they are not just playing for the outcome and new contracts, but especially for the sake of the numerous spectators, "said Hurtsilava.
Murtaz assesses the 2016 European Championship in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia and notes that "most teams did not have the beauty of the game, the football romance and the technology that should be achieved in tournaments of this level." "That bothers many fans and football experts, "added the veteran.
Tengiz Pacchoria from Tbilisi specially for Rosports.kz.