Skip to main content

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): O is for Oviedo. Real Oviedo, Part 2 (31st December, 2017)

From part 1:

While Iván Iglesias only spent four seasons at Real Oviedo, Russian defender Viktor Onopko played seven seasons at the club and enjoys the exalted position of having played the most times for the club for a non-Spaniard - in second place is Nikola Jerkan, and ironically Viktor was the player who was signed to replaced him.

Born in modern-day Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), Viktor graduated from Zorya Luhansk. He started his professional career at Shakhtar Donetsk when he was only 16 years old, in 1986 - being signed from local club Stakhanov. He would play there for two seasons, after which he would join military service - playing for Dynamo Kiev. In 1990, he was back at Shakhtar, where impressive performances facilitated a move to Spartak Moscow in 1992.

His position in the field was at the center of the defense, however at Spartak he found his footing as a libero - even sometimes playing as an offensive midfielder. Pretty soon, he became the captain of the team, and despite being a defensive midfielder contributed in the final third regularly - with 13 goals in 43 matches during the 1993 season. According to multiple newspaper polls, such as those of Football magazine and Sport Express (a sports daily), he was widely recognized as the best football player in Russia. And the newspapers duly listened - the former awarded Viktor best footballer in Russia in 1992 and 1993; the latter did the same in 1993 too.

With Spartak, Onopko managed to lift the league on three consecutive occasions in addition to qualifying for the semifinals of the Champions League, and his name made the circles of many European clubs. In Spain, Atlético de Madrid, and especially Jesús Gil, were very keen on signing the Russian, but in the end Real Oviedo made the signing in 1995. $2.5 million was the total outlay to the club.

But money can't buy loyalty. And Viktor would stay at the club through trying times.

He became the team captain, and in December 1997 and January 1998, the popular Spanish magazine Don Balón named Onopko the best defender of the month. In 2000, he had not received any pay for over two years but decided to renew his contract anyways. Even when the total debt on wages owed to him reached 1.6 million euros, and when Oviedo were relegated to the Segunda in 2001, he would continue to play for the club.




It was in 2002, when Real Oviedo could barely afford to even survive, when Viktor had to leave the club earlier than expected. Once again, competition for the player was fierce - Deportivo were interested in him but the Russian ended up choosing Rayo Vallecano as his loan destination.

His time at the club was blighted not by his performances, but by the chaos off the pitch. Fernando Vázquez, the Rayo coach who had brought him to the club and had worked with Viktor at Oviedo, was fired midway through the season, and Rayo were relegated from La Liga at the end of the season. Moreover, Viktor had to make repeated trips during this time to Oviedo to visit his family and fix the debt that was owed to him by his former club.



His time in Spain had come to an unfortunate end - in 2003 he left for his country to join the ranks of Alania Vladikavkaz of the Russian Premier League. But the adventure was short lived, and in January 2004 he left for Saturn where he remained until 2006.

Since then, he has retired from professional football, but has found success in administration. Already with some player-coach experience while at Saturn, he took up the position of sporting director of the Russian Football Union in 2007, until 2009. Afterwards, he was recruited by Spaniard Juande Ramos to be his second coach at CSKA Moscow - Juande lasted just 47 days, being signed in September 2009 and being sacked the following month.

However, Viktor continues to be part of the technical staff, and is still the assistant manager at the club.

Watch out for part 3 tomorrow!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Last game: 8th August: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United The previous day, I was blown away by my first ever football match experience. Dulwich Hamlet impressed me, but what impressed me more was the journey. The travel to the stadium was just as enjoyable as the football itself. I had caught the groundhopping bug. There were no games scheduled for the 9th of August. There was one, near Wigan, and all I had booked earlier was a refundable bus ticket from Manchester Airport leaving at quarter past midnight. I should have refunded it. This was a mistake. This whole day was a mistake. I was only slightly hungover from the previous night, but that was nothing compared to this feeling of loss - I couldn't handle the fact that there was a game happening. And I wasn't too far away. Just three hours and a bit. They'll fly by , I thought. I was in autopilot. Something within me made me get up, grab a bag, and get out the door. This wasn't me. I wasn't trave

Ismael Urzaiz and Salamanca. A 22 team La Liga. Trust and Víctor Casadesús (9th June, 2017)

Salamanca traveled to Albacete to compete for promotion to La Liga with an impossible task on their hands. They had to overturn a 2-0 deficit away from home, against a side that entered La Liga's relegation playoff spots on the final day, and who had scored 44 goals in the league - just four less than Salamanca themselves. As the clock ticked towards the 90th minute, Salamanca were winning 1-0 yet in danger of losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Born in Tudela, Navarre, Urzaiz began his professional career at Real Madrid's B-side, making his debut in Segunda División in 1989. Despite being a successful youth international, he did not make any La Liga appearances for the first team (however, he did play one game against Odense BK, in the 1990–91 European Cup). Urzaiz spent the 1991–92 season on loan at Albacete Balompié, making his top flight debut when he came on as a substitute against Athletic Bilbao in October 1991. In early 1993, he was loaned to Celta de Vigo

Non-league Incider: Cray Valley Paper Mills 4-4 Punjab United Gravesend

Last game: 9th August: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers After ripping up my groundhopping calendar, mostly because I was determined to avoid overnight travel, and partly due to other commitments, there was a period of time where non-league football took a backseat. But that period did not last long. Because of course it didn't. Secretly, I'd loved travelling over ten hours back-and-forth to watch some 10th division football. And this was 9th division football in London. When I had gone to East Dulwich exactly a week back , I had commented on how the amount of graffiti struck me as I watched from on board a southeastern train. I was going the exact same way, but much further this time - then I had stopped at Denmark Hill, now I would have to go six stations further. The graffiti I had thought was so emblematic of south London quickly disappeared, as did the tall buildings desperately cluttered together. We, and by we I mean me, were going to the suburb