Igor Duljaj: I’m happy to be back at Shakhtar!

On July 7, the former Shakhtar player signed a contract with Shakhtar. The former midfielder Igor Duljaj will assist the Shakhtar U-21 head coach Miguel Cardoso.

- We’ve worked together with Miguel for six months now. He is a modern coach, one can learn a lot from him, - Igor Duljaj shared his impression. - As you know, with the permission of the club, I did an internship at Shakhtar while attending the coaching course. By the way, I rejected the offer from a Russian Premier League club to join their coaching staff.

- Once you said that you would never become a coach ...
- Right, but I had, as you see, to reconsider my opinion. I enrolled on a coaching course on request of Oleg Kononov, when I had been playing for Sevastopol. The club wanted me to subsequently join the coaching staff. But then happened this situation with the Crimea and Ukraine in general... You know, of course I could be easily staying at home in Serbia, but that wasn’t quite it. I am happy to be back at Shakhtar! Here there is a special spirit, and I feel as if I never left.

- Igor, in Serbia they never address an individual by their middle name. How do the young players address Duljaj the coach?
- They just call me by name, but with due respect. Of course, the young players shouldn’t call me by my player nickname Duki. Because there must be mutual respect between the coach and the player. There are no issues with that at the U-21 team - all the guys are well brought up, we perfectly understand each other.

- On the field you stood out primarily due to your composure and dedication. What kind of coach will Igor Duljaj make?
- I still I do not know it, time will reveal it, but I will find my own style for sure. Most importantly, I do not fear my new responsibility, although I’m still learning. Psychology is very important: it is possible, for example, to raise voice at your charges, but you need to understand whether it brings any benefit in a specific situation. The three mentors became my role models: Lothar Matthaus, Oleg Kononov and, of course, Mircea Lucescu. I will adopt all the best from them and, above all, just as they do, I will focus on discipline and order in the team. I always listened carefully to the coaches, though I never made notes of it. While on internship at Shakhtar, Mister told me this: “Feel free to ask me any questions about coaching!” By the way, Miguel Cardoso also asks my opinion, considering my footballing past. He listens to me, and it cannot but deserve every respect. Conversely, Miguel’s word is, of course, law for me.

- What coaching bar have you set for yourself?
- I won numerous trophies as a player. Of course, in the coaching career you want to do the same. Probably, everyone dreams to coach some big clubs. But this is too early to think about, now it is necessary to polish the knowledge and skills, I want to grow up and get the coaching PRO category. I am grateful to all the people at Shakhtar, who gave me a chance to work at the club! It does not matter in what role. It is important to benefit and protect the interests of the club at all levels and to give my all. I would be happy to meet with Shakhtar fans again! I was moved when already being a player of Sevastopol, I was warmly welcomed at the Donbass Arena, applauded during a warm-up session, asked for autographs and saw dedicated banners. Just imagine – I keep all those posters and gifts from fans with good-wishing messages at my home in Serbia.

Player profile

Igor Duljaj made 196 appearances and scored 6 goals for Shakhtar.

Ukrainian League - 118 apps, 5 goals
Ukrainian Cup - 26 apps, 1 goal
Super Cup - 4 apps
European competitions - 48 apps