…The editorial staff of ”World Sport” decided it and its Cup which as a result of an annual poll is awarded to the best football player of the year, this time is awarded to Jaba Kankava, midfielder of the national team and “Reims” of France, without any poll.
This year the poll was to be held for the tenth time. Since 2006 the following football players have won “World Sport Cup” by our polls: Levan Tskitishvili (2006), Giorgi Merebashvili (2007, 08, 10), Jano Ananidze (2009), Kakha Kaladze (2011), Tornike Okriashvili (2012, 14) and Guram Kashia (2013).
In order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our poll we decided that this year we will name the best football player. Generally, “World Sport” has existed for 17 years and is going to work for its readers for a long time. So, “World Sport” will name its winner every tenth year.
If we had held a poll, Kankava would have been a favorite but he would have had serious opponents. For example, Vako Kazaishvili has become one of the leaders of “Vitesse”. In the future Vako and some young talented football players will achieve success for sure. But now Jaba Kankava is the best Georgian football player 2015 by the version of “World Sport”!
And in the end, we announced it so late because it is Jaba’s birthday today!
The editorial staff of worldsport.ge and “World Sport”
Despite the abovementioned decision, “World Sport” will write about the 22 best football players who in our opinion showed themselves in 2015:
Nukri Revishvili (1987)
Club: “Tosno”, “Mordovia” (both – Russia)
The first half of the year was not successful for Revishvili because he was not given enough time to play in “Tosno” but he transferred to “Mordovia” in summer and held many good matches. Nukri even got in symbolic team of Premier League twice. As for the national team, he played Germany and Scotland well.
Giorgi Loria (1986)
Club: OFI (Greece), “Krylia” (Russia)
It was not the best year for Loria but he held some remarkable matches in OFI and “Krylia”. In the national team he held good first half against Poland.
Giorgi Makaridze (1990)
Club: “Feirense” (Portugal)
Makaridze plays well in “Feirense”. He held some “dry” matches, parried penalties… and even scored a goal.
Aleksandre Amisulashvili (1982)
Club: “Inter” (Azerbaijan), “Karsiyaka” (Turkey)
Now Amisulashvili is in “Dinamo” Tbilisi. He was good in “Inter” Baku and is very useful for the national team. Aleksandre scored a goal against Albania.
Guram Kashia (1987)
Club: “Vitesse” (Netherlands)
In Netherlands Kashia is often said to be one of the best defenders in Eredivisie. He was stable and scored goals in his club: this year Kashia scored only 5 goals in the championship.
Giorgi Navalovski (1986)
Club: “Tosno” (Russia), “Dila” (Gori)
It can be said that Navalovski is very useful on the left wing of the national team which has been problematic in the recent years. He is very active in offence. Giorgi has already held the first half of the year in “Dila”.
Otar Kakabadze (1995)
Club: “Dinamo” (Tbilisi)
The right defender of “Dinamo” Tbilisi is a captain of the youth team. He played well in the national championship. Kakabadze held some weak matches in the national team but is a very talented player.
Solomon Kvirkvelia (1992)
Club: “Rubin” (Russia)
Kvirkvelia plays well in “Rubin” Kazan and is named as one of the best defenders of Premier League. He showed good game against “Liverpool” at Europa League. Perhaps, sooner or later, Solomon will play in top championship.
Jano Ananidze (1992)
Club: “Spartak” (Moscow, Russia)
Ananidze could not have been on this list if not good matches against Scotland and Ukraine. He is not given time to play in “Spartak”. Jano had injury during the last three months. In “Spartak” he showed up a few days ago.
Vako Kazaishvili (1993)
Club: “Vitesse” (Netherlands)
Kazaishvili is progressing each year and has become a leader of offences in “Vitesse”. He is an example of how to work on yourself and how to wait for your chance. In 2015 Vako scored three goals in the national team (against Malta, Scotland, Gibraltar). His goal against the Scots brought us victory. Kazaishvili deserves better club than “Vitesse”.
Sandro Kobakhidze (1987)
Club: “Volyn” (Ukraine)
Kakha Tskhadadze had Kobakhidze on five different positions in the national team. He is universal but played better in the previous years. Sandro was considered to be a leader of “Volyn” but this winter he returned to “Dnipro” Dnipropetrovsk.
Levan Kenia (1990)
Club: “Slavia” (Czech Republic)
Kenia is back in the national team. He was good against Malta and Ukraine. Levan earned two assists in the national team.
Kenia is an appreciated player in “Slavia”. He has not played much due to injuries.
Tornike Okriashvili (1992)
Club: “Genk” (Belgium)
Okriashvili is very useful for the national team. He had two ideal moments against Germany but Manuel Neuer parried his shots. Tornike is completely different in his club. Let us see how 2016 will be for him: he is in “Eskisehirspor” of Turkey.
Giorgi Papunashvili (1995)
Club: “Dinamo” (Tbilisi), “Werder” (Germany)
Papunashvili was one of the best players of the previous national championship. He held perfect Cup final against “Samtredia”. In summer Giorgi transferred to “Werder”. At first he played in reserve team, scored goals and in January he was promoted to the main team.
Nika Kvekveskiri (1992)
Club: “Dila” (Gori), “Inter” (Azerbaijan)
Kvekveskiri became a champion of Georgia in “Dila”. Then, he transferred to “Inter” Baku and got in symbolic team of the first circle. In the national team Nika replaced Ananidze and played well against Gibraltar and Germany.
Giorgi Arabidze (1998)
Club: “Lokomotiv” (Tbilisi), “Shakhtar” (Donetsk)
Arabidze held the match of the year in the UEFA Youth League (“Malmo”-“Shakhtar” 5:5). He is a very gifted player. Mircea Lucescu, head coach of “Shakhtar”, likes Arabidze and promoted him to the main team.
Mate Vatsadze (1988)
Club: “Aarhus” (Denmark)
Last season Vatsadze scored 14 goals (only in the championship). Also, he scored 3 goals in the national team: one against Ukraine and two against Gibraltar. He is very dangerous in penalty area.
Aleksandre Iashvili (1977)
Club: “Samtredia”, “Dinamo” (Tbilisi)
Iashvili is back and is one of the best in the national championship. The 38-year-old Aleksandre spent the first half of the year in “Samtredia” and went through to Georgian Cup final. Then, he transferred to “Dinamo” Tbilisi and won Super Cup. Iashvili is holding a good season, scores goals and earns assists.
Levan Mchedlidze (1990)
Club: “Empoli” (Italy)
Mchedlidze held the last match of the previous season in September but has some memorable matches. For example, the match against Scotland in Tbilisi (1:0). In Serie A Levan held a good match in May when he scored brace against “Inter”.
Nika Kacharava (1994)
Kacharava is a top scorer of the current season of the national championship. He scored 13 goals. Also, Nika scored one goal in the qualifying round of Europa League and nobody has scored more than him in the U-21 team. Kacharava is a talented center-forward who will continue career in “Rostov” of Russia.
Irakli Modebadze (1984)
Modebadze is a top scorer of the previous season of the national championship. This season he scored 8 goals and became a champion of Georgia.
Jaba Kankava (1986)
Club: “Dnipro” (Ukraine), “Reims” (France)
Kankava is a backbone, captain and leader of the national team. Last year he had a remarkable season in “Dnipro”. His club made through to Europa League final. In summer Jaba transferred to “Reims”.
He often receives yellow cards but plays a key role in midfield. Only his goal against Germany means a lot…
More about Kankava
Kankava is a captain and leader of the Georgian national team. He is a devoted and professional player. Jaba was only 18 years old when he played a key role in “Dinamo” Tbilisi. It was Kankava’s merit when Gia Geguchadze’s team made through to the group stage of the UEFA Cup.
In 2014 Jaba saved Oleh Husyev’s life (player of “Dynamo” Kyiv). Husyev suffered a knee to the head from Boyko, goalkeeper of “Dnipro”, and lost consciousness. The Georgian midfielder of “Dnipro” ran to Husyev and provided him emergency assistance.
It happened in 2014. Last year many interesting things happened in Kankava’s career. To everybody’s surprise, “Dnipro” went through to Europa League final. “Dnipro” beat a lot of good clubs, including Italy’s “Napoli”. After losing the final to “Sevilla”, Kankava showed up with a Georgian flag at the awards ceremony.
In summer Jaba transferred to France’s “Reims”. Many think he deserved a better club.
Kankava and the national team: he has held 60 matches and scored 7 goals. Of course, the most memorable and beautiful was the one against Germany last year. He also scored against Malta in a friendly match.
Jaba’s one character trait: in 2007 Georgia won 2:1 in Qatar. After the match our experienced football players were delighted but Jaba said shyly that they played only first 15 minutes well. The 21-year-old boy was much self-critical despite scoring a goal in that match.
The Georgian Football Federation named Jaba Kankava the best Georgian football player 2015 (GFF Awards). He is also a favorite of “World Sport”. We will give him a prize in March when he will arrive in Tbilisi – the national team holds a friendly match against Kazakhstan on March 29.
Guram Chomakhidze (Jaba’s childhood coach): “Quiet, hardworking since childhood”
“Who started rough-and-tumble? Of course, Jaba”
Jaba Kankava’s first coach is Guram Chomakhidze. Kankava was practicing football under Chomakhidze’s guidance during 8 years. At the age of 14 he went to “Dinamo” Tbilisi where late Vakhtang Kopaleishvili was training him. Then, there was Gia Geguchadze who trusted Jaba and the 18-year-old boy played in the UEFA Cup.
“Guram Chomakhidze was training me during 8 years. He is my first coach. He is a very good specialist and a great person. I will always grateful to him” – Jaba told us.
Guram Chomakhidze is 73 years old now. We visited him at home. He was very happy. His eyes were filled with tears. Mr. Guram brought photo album and showed us Jaba’s childhood photos. By the way, Jaba was shorter than others but Mr. Guram told us Jaba was practicing with adults a year his senior.
Here is the interview with Guram Chomakhidze:
- Jaba was 6 years old when I met him. We were practicing at “Maudi” stadium in Didube district. The club was called “Vake 91”, then “Maudi”, “Elektroni”, “Kazbegi”.
Jaba was a restless child but not with bad manners. Nothing happened without him. He was making rough-and-tumble and when I was asking who did it. Of course, Jaba. Jaba was smiling at me and I could not get angry with him.
- I have heard Kankava was a forward at the beginning…
- Yes, he was. When Goga Pipia, Sandro Iashvili and the others came, Jaba started playing in midfield. He was hard-working, like a bee in the center.
- Was not he disappointed when he started playing in midfield?
- He was not pleased but I explained him why I did it. Later, he realized that I made a right decision.
- Kankava, Pipia, Iashvili – who else were on your team?
- Zaal Eliava, Gocha Khojava, Lasha Japaridze, Rezo Getsadze… Many played football from that team. The team of the players born in 1985 was among 8 best teams at European Championship. Jaba’s brother Levan Kankava was on the team. Levan was a year older than Jaba. At first Levan was a captain of the team.
- When did Jaba’s brother quit football?
- When Jaba transferred to “Dinamo”. Levan was talented but he lacked speed.
- Who was the most talented on the team?
- Khojava. He was to play great football. Unfortunately, his character did not let him do it.
- Did Jaba’s family support him?
- It was a tough period in the 90s but Jaba had a support from his family. One day I met his mother and told me Jaba only thought about football and did not care about books. She was not against football but wanted her son to study well. Jaba’s father Gia always wanted his son to be a football player.
- Did Jaba go in for other sports?
- The whole team go in for acrobatics. Then, I took the boys to the athlete and this gave the team a good result. The boys became very flexible.
- Was Kankava hard-working?
- Yes, he was. Generally, kids are lazy but Jaba was not. He had a great sense of responsibility. He carried out instructions and added improvisation to it. Jaba always played well. He was cheerful and witty. Now he does not like talking much and giving interviews.
- Did he have conflicts?
- No but he never let anyone oppress him and he never oppressed anyone.
- Tell us about your coaching career. We know you had many teams. Giorgi Devdariani said it is your merit that he started coaching…
- I started coaching in 1982. I grew up in Nadzaladevi district. Misha Meskhi and I were friends. I had a good team “Shatili” where the children born in 1971-1972 played. We became champions of the Soviet Union in 1987. Unfortunately, political situation and war split this team.
As for Devdariani, his father Shalva was my friend and Giorgi played on my team. He could have become a good player but he gave up football. I told him to watch practices and he would learn coaching and he did it. Now I train children individually – in Saburtalo and Vake districts.
- And in the end, do you still have a good relationship with Jaba Kankava? Does he visit you?
- He is a very good person and helps me a lot.
And finally, during a year “World Sport” will pay 150 GEL monthly to the first coach of the best football player of the year.