“You can’t imagine what this goal means to me,” beamed Bohdan Viunnyk in conversation LAOLA1.
Probably hardly anyone can really imagine that.
After all, it’s so much more than the golden goal in GAK’s 1-0 win over Admira or a striker’s first goal for his new employer – in front of a home crowd at that.
However, all of this is also true and is in itself a good reason for a good mood.
“The feelings are incredible. It was my first 90-minute game in almost two years. I don’t have any strength anymore because I put everything into this game, but I’m so happy,” the 20-year-old cheers and continues :
“For a striker, the most important thing is to score goals to be able to help the team. Seeing the fans so happy is very important to me.”
What also makes this goal so emotional is Viunnyk’s recent past.
Last time at home on January 24, 2022
From a sporting perspective, it’s his first league goal since August 2021 when he netted for FK Mariupol in the Ukrainian league.
Today Mariupol is a ruined city.
“On January 24, 2022.” Viunnyk can say exactly when he was last in his home country.
Exactly one month later, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine began. At this time, the striker is at a training camp in Turkey with FK Mariupol.
A Champions League minute against Real
Viunnyk comes to Switzerland as a refugee with a backpack and football boots, as he says “View” told. Later, his family manages to flee to Austria’s neighboring country.
There the U21 team player starts his unexpected career abroad at FC Zurich – and at least with Champions League experience in his CV.
In October 2020, his regular club Shakhtar Donetsk celebrated a sensational 3-2 win at Real Madrid. Viunnyk, then 18, came on as a substitute in added time.
In Zurich he works his way up to the pros via the second team. Last fall, 14 competitive games followed (seven in the league, four in the Europa League, two in EL qualifiers and one in the cup), although he mostly played as a joker.
Foda in the head and in the heart
Above all, however, Viunnyk will meet a coach in Franco Foda, who is well known in Austria and especially in Graz.
“Foda always told me a striker has to be a beast.”
The former ÖFB team boss and storm coach promotes the youngster, who is still grateful to him today: “I have good memories, I’ve played many games, he’s in my head and in my heart.”
What did he learn from Foda? Viunnyk grins: “He always told me a striker has to be a beast, score goals and throw everything in the penalty area.”
Foda himself said a few weeks ago in the “Crown” about his former protégé: “He is extremely willing, marches for 90 minutes, has good start-up behavior and can hold the ball well. He is a young player with potential, but he has no rhythm and now has to play regularly.”
The goal of the year is just postponed
That is exactly the plan at GAK. Viunnyk was in the starting XI for the first time against Admira and also knew how to do well away from his rather easy goal. Actually, he should have ended the match with two or more hits.
It was a crowd favourite-suspected performance, the highlight of which was a splendid overhead kick to the crossbar, the LAOLA1commentator Johannes Kristoferitsch even in the highlights (see the following video from minute 1:56).
In this scene, the Ukrainian left a serious contender for Goal of the Year. For him, however, this is only postponed and not canceled:
“I will train more and hope that I can catch up on the award for the best goal,” Viunnyk assures.
The fact that he attempted an overhead kick just a few minutes earlier – ultimately in vain – suggests that he means this announcement quite seriously.
A talent for football
If such spectacular deposits succeed, this is of course a nice bonus – on the surface it is probably enough for his bosses and fellow players if he uses the simple chances. In any case, Viunnyk has successfully made an impression on GAK so far.
“He’s 20, very callous for his age, has incredible speed, can make something out of nothing. As you saw against Admira, he’s almost impossible to keep in a one-on-one. He just has a talent for football,” enthuses Coach Gernot Messner. In addition, he is a type of player that has been missing in the squad so far.
Veteran Michael Liendl also takes off his hat: “A great player. I think he can do even more when he’s really at his best. You could see his quality. It’s good for us how he holds the ball and is there , where a striker has to be. We’re happy to have him.”
How the GAK could fish such a player? “You have to ask Didi as sporting director. He did it really well.”
Elsneg: No inquiries at Foda
Dieter Elsneg is meant by Didi, and he emphasizes that he would have made this transfer without asking the local rival’s ex-coach:
“No, I asked through other channels and created my own access to be able to form a good judgement. Even without asking Mr Foda’s opinion, I was convinced that we would get him.”
“He also shows what he can do in competition. There are many players in the football world who show their quality in training but don’t show it in a competitive phase or in games.”
The head of sport emphasizes: “We knew that he had great quality, otherwise you won’t be able to play for a few minutes in the Europa League or the Champions League.”
Elsneg is particularly good at the fact that the newcomer is a competitive type: “He also shows what he can do in competition. There are many players in the football world who show their quality in training, but in a competitive phase or in the games.”
Where can Viunnyk go?
How good can Viunnyk get? Such predictions are always difficult. However, Elsneg believes the striker could have made a good career move by joining GAK:
“Outwardly it’s two steps backwards to go into the second Austrian division. But for him it’s just important that he gets into a game rhythm, builds up substance, stays injury-free and helps us.”
“Then,” the head of sport continued, “with his possibilities, he can go back to where he was able to collect a few minutes.”
Ideally, that would be the Champions League. But for the time being step by step is the order of the day. Messner: “He needed a club to play for. We wanted to change something up front. It’s a win-win situation.”
A goal for the compatriots
Who knows what’s possible for GAK in the spring if the loan striker, who is actually under contract with Shakhtar Donetsk until 2025, actually comes out as planned.
“It would be nice if we could celebrate with the fans in the city.”
In any case, Viunnyk is ambitious enough to aim for promotion: “It would be nice if we could celebrate with the fans in the city. We will give our best and hope that we will be first.”
At the same time, one can probably agree that there are more important things than football at the moment. As difficult as the situation in Ukraine is, football is a good distraction.
“For over a year there have been bombs every day, our people are fighting for freedom every day. I appreciate our military and all the people who are in Ukraine. This victory and this goal are also for my compatriots.”
No, we really can’t imagine what that goal means to Bohdan Viunnyk.