FC Shakhtar - Ukrainian Cup holder 1997
2002. FC Shakhtar win their first Ukrainian gold
2005. "Golden success" of FC Shakhtar - domestic league champions title
June 2005. Mircea Lucescu, head coach, and Rinat Akhmetov, president, with the Ukrainian Champions Cup
|On 11 October 1996, Rinat Akhmetov – whose name is closely associated with the club’s further development and success - was appointed the president of FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Having set the goal of forming the team of high European level, the president has been doing his utmost to attain the above goal year on year.|
In the late 90s, European encounters were Shakhtar’s Achilles' heel. After being relatively ‘successful’ and reaching the Round of 16 of CWC in 1997, FC Shakhtar were defeated by Italian Vicenze in both legs. Later, FC Shakhtar found it challenging even to confront quite regular clubs like Swiss Zurich and Dutch Roda.
In 2000, managed by the head coach Viktor Prokopenko, for the first time in their history FC Shakhtar made it to the Champions League group stage. The Pitmen defeated SK Slavia Praga on aggregate then. In the return leg, a goal scored by Andrey Vorobey lead to the extra time in which Sergey Atelkin drew the line by hammering in the winner. The Pitmen finished third in the group featuring SS Lazio, Arsenal FC and AC Sparta Praha.
Meanwhile, the club was developing the infrastructure at high pace. In 1999 FC Shakhtar opened their Football Academy for youth. In the same year they finished reconstruction of Kirsha training facility to unveil one of Europe’s best and most advanced training centres. The central stadium Shakhtar underwent refurbishment to meet UEFA requirements.
Let us note that a foreign coach led the team to winning their first Ukrainian gold (in 2002). It took Nevio Scala - the expert renowned throughout Europe - half a year to enable Shakhtar to hop to the top step of the podium. After the Italian, the team was coached by Valeriy Yaryomchenko, Bernd Schuster from Germany and since May 2004 – by Mircea Lucescu from Romania.
The decade was marked by the Pitmen’s numerous landmark achievements in the domestic arena. In 2005, under the guidance of Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar won the domestic championship again. During the above period Shakhtar lifted the Cup of Ukraine four times. Following their wins in 1997 and 2001, the Pitmen made it again to the Cup final in 2002, in which they snatched a 3-2 extra-time win against Dynamo Kyiv. In 2004, Shakhtar secured the Ukrainian Cup title once again. It was Shakhtar’s first achievement under new coach Mircea Lucescu.
Another first-time event in the club history – winning the Ukrainian Super Cup – marked the period of 1996-2005. In the Super Cup encounter against Dynamo in the summer 2005, Shakhtar defeated their archrivals (1-1, 4-3 after a penalty shoot-out).