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Yuri Nikiforov (1970)

Yuri Valeryevich Nikiforov (September 16, 1970) was a defender from Ukraine who played for PSV and RKC in the Netherlands. The robust basket also played with the Spanish Sporting Gijon and the Japanese Urawa Red Diamonds, but started his career in his hometown Odessa.

On the Black Sea, Nikiforov was trained by FC Chornomorets Odessa, but he did not make his debut in professional football here. He did this with fellow townsman SK Odessa, where he made his first appearance in the first team in 1987. After Nikiforov played for Dinamo Kiev in the 1988-1989 season, the stopper returned to Odessa this year and went to play for the club that had trained him, FC Chornomorets. With this club Nikiforov participated in 1993 in the first year of competition of the independent Ukraine. With a third place it managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Nikiforov had meanwhile also become international, but due to the political climate at the time, he was able to switch quite often. In the end he played for three national teams. In 1992 he played one international match with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), with which he went to the European Championship in 1992. The defender did not come into the field during the tournament in which it, among others, hit the Netherlands in the group stage. This also turned out to be the end point. Also in 1992, Nikiforov played an international match for Ukraine, after which he chose Russia, for which he played 55 more times. He also participated in the World Cup finals of 1994 and 2002 and the European Championship in 1996.

Immediately after that European Championship, Nikiforov transferred to Spain. Sporting Gijon picked up the defender after he played for Spartak Moscow for three years. He stayed in Spain for two seasons, because after the relegation of Gijon from the Primera Division, PSV took over him, this was in 1998. In Eindhoven, Nikiforov immediately secured a starting place and he came to play together with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Abel Xavier, among others.

In four seasons, Yuri Nikiforov played 96 games and became Dutch champion twice. In 2002 Nikiforov switched to RKC Waalwijk for one more season, to end his career in 2004 at the Japanese Urawa Red Diamonds.

(Photo: Wikipedia).

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