Unai Melgosa (Bilbao, 11-1-1976) graduated from Lezama and, after playing at Mlaga, stood out in Ukrainian football. First at Dynamo Kiev, then as assistant to the legendary Serhiy Rebrov and now as Ukraine under-21 coach.
“At a moment of ‘impasse’ I received a call from Dinamo. Ral Riancho and Vicente Gómez were in the starting team and reserve team, respectively, and were looking for a coach for the under 19 team. I accepted and in the second year I jumped to ‘B’. It was there that I had my first connection with Rebrov, since that season they have taken a lot from the reserve team”, he said. remember the BRAND.
The Basque coach suddenly became the ‘right-hand man’ of Andriy Shevchenko’s eternal companion. Help Rebrov win three consecutive Leagues with Ferencvarosalready winning the League and the Cup with Al Ain…before returning to the ‘home box’.
“In June they appointed Rebrov as Ukraine’s main coach and the possibility arises that I work as coordinator of the lower categories andfrom September, “I also took on the responsibility of coaching the under-21 team”, details Unai Melgosa.
His ‘communion’ with Rebrov is total: “He is a great coach. He controls many variables at once and has weight in the locker room, not just in Ukraine because of who he has been. At the game level, there are concepts that you always mention, such as knowledge of spaces and conditional understanding. Manage games well. Their equipment is versatile. He doesn’t just play one way. “We almost always try to take the initiative, but if we can’t, we try to force our rival to give in to our intentions.”
Rebrov is a great coach. His equipment is versatile. It doesn’t just work one way.
What he didn’t count on was that his move to Ukraine would bring him back to Spain… because of the Russian invasion. The under-21s, with Unai Melgosa on the bench, beat Luxembourg (4-0) playing at home, at the Enrique Roca stadium, in Murcia and this afternoon they hope to do it again, also in Nueva Condomina, against Azerbaijan.
“They offered me the chance to play in another country… but it didn’t work out. I insisted that they give me options with just one condition: that the field was good at this time of year and that the temperature was good.. I suggested to the Federation the opportunity to come here -they are training at the Arena La Torre Golf de Pinatar facilities-, they saw it and liked it. That’s why we came,” he says.
Playing away from home has unfortunately become their destiny: “Ukraine always has to play away because of the war, but at the same time, it’s as if we were playing at home.”. The current situation has awakened a patriotic feeling that makes us find support wherever we go”, highlights the Spanish coach.
Ukraine always have to play abroad because of the war, but at the same time, it’s as if we were playing at home.
Murcia, obviously, was no exception: “They welcomed us very well. We really notice the affection of the fans wherever we go and “There was an important part of the stands supporting the team from the first minute to the last.”
At Nueva Condomina there was an important part of the stands supporting the team from the first to the last minute
“It took 28 hours to get to Spain”
But, if Unai Melgosa praises someone a lot, it is for his players: “They have a lot of merit. It took 28 hours to get to Spain. The trip to Poland to catch the plane is an odyssey.At the border they have to juggle things. It can take up to 10 hours and this sometimes leaves us without a day to train… but they are very experienced.”
“They are living a very harsh reality. Most of them live far from home… but they don’t make excuses,” warn. “In the rest of the world, we often make a drama out of anything, but Ukrainians see the benefits more than the costs. When the alarms go off, they go to the locker room and continue playing with surprising normality. Your behavior is exemplary,” she emphasizes.
When the alarms go off, they go to the locker room and continue playing with surprising normality. Your behavior is exemplary
As for the results, better, for now things couldn’t be going well for them. Ukraine leads Group F towards the 2025 U21 Euro Cup -marchs ahead of England and Serbia- 12 points out of 12 possible.
“The victory against England was shocking due to the level of players they have (Rico Lewis, Madueke, Livramento, Trafford, Elliot…). The truth is that we gave our best and I am very satisfied and grateful for the attitude and commitment of the players.”highlights.
I am very satisfied and grateful for the attitude and commitment of the players
However, Unai Melgosa doesn’t want to throw the bells away: “This is just beginning. We don’t gain anything. It’s like when it’s 1-0 after 20 minutes of play… Of course we are interested in competing and qualifying for the European Championship because that would allow us to play more high-level games… but “Rebrov’s project is more about creating a similar context for players to adapt to the context they will encounter when they reach the senior team.”
Many young people (Zabarnyi, Sudakov, Trubin, Sikan, Mudryk…) They have already made this ‘leap’, but Unai Melgosa highlights the ‘good health’ of Ukrainian football: “We have many profiles. In addition to talent, character helps them. COVID-19 and war may have some impact, but “I am sure that in the coming years many more promising young people will emerge.”