Davit Kipiani- The ‘Moving Feast’ of Football

Here goes the remembrance of Davit Kipiani, our Dato – the legendary Georgian football player of the world renown! Let us refresh our memory for a second and think of the virtuoso athlete and his exquisite personality, he who possessed the magic ability to turn a football game into a real feast which would stay with you forever.

In the period between 1976 and 1981, Kipiani was the first fiddle of the magnificent ‘orchestra’ called Tbilisi Dinamo. This was the time when his beloved team defeated the greats of football like Liverpool, Inter Milan and others in various European tournaments.

Kipiani is one of the representatives of the outstanding Group of Number 10s which has become a literal pride of world football. He is often compared to contemporary football stars like Johan Kruiff and Michel Platini.

Once, FIFA rightly noted that Kipiani was an amazing player who helped place his club Tbilisi Dinamo on the map of world football. His international career was recognized by fans around the globe.

The World Soccer magazine wrote: ‘If Kipiani were a player on a western team, he would be a real superstar.’ In March 1982, just before the World Football Championship in Spain, the French football journal Mondial published a survey about the three best footballers. Kipiani came second after Zico among the best three named by the Brazilians. Among the three selected by the Spaniards – the hosts of the championship – Kipiani’s name came second after Maradona, and in the group of three compiled by the Mondial itself, the list was made up in the following order: Maradona, Kipiani, Platini. Incidentally, it was the French themselves who placed Kipiani before Platini.

Yet Davit Kipiani never made it to the championship because, in a preceding match with Real Madrid in Spain, he double-fractured his leg, and at the peak of his career the 31-year old football star was compelled to give up his sporting career.

The legendary Russian goal-keeper Lev Yashin wrote: ‘David Kipiani is the most illustrious figure in Soviet football; he is simply unparalleled. The intelligent Kipiani, with his exquisite manner of playing, is able to see his teammates excellently and has the capacity to resolve the most difficult of issues on the football field.’

Still needing an athletic career, Kipiani continued working in the capacity of coach. When he was working in Georgia, only the teams trained by him would become champions; for instance, Tbilisi Dinamo six times and Kutaisi Torpedo twice. Twice, at different times, he was the head coach of the Georgian National Football Team.

He won numerous prizes and high titles, but one of them is exceptional indeed. FIFA awarded him Order of Merit for his outstanding achievements and special contribution to world football. In the Diploma for this honorary order we read: ‘David Kipiani is a national hero for football fans in his home country of Georgia, both as a player and a coach.’

The great Indian Swami Vivekananda once said: “Each individual has only one central theme at the basis of his life – a central tune around which all other tunes of harmony are accumulated.” With Davit Kipiani, it is not difficult at all to identify the unique theme on which his entire life was based. He was haunted by a craving for a feast of a game which he would then dedicate to the spectators, hundreds of thousands of fans who jammed the world stadiums- there to watch him give genuine delight to his happy audience.

His love for fans, who in their turn adored him, was the greatest award for Kipiani. Like the legendary Brazilian footballer Garrincha, he too deserves the title of ‘People’s Delight’.

The following are the words of famous Georgian actor Kakhi Kavsadze, dedicated to Davit Kipiani: “Is there a man or a machine anywhere that would be capable of measuring the amount of delight Kipiani granted the Georgian people? I don’t think there is. Davit belonged among those people endowed with a rare gift of bestowing love on everybody around – once and for all.’

Giorgi Gorgodze

27 October 2016 20:29