Dmitri (Dima) Kovalenko, 35, forward, midfielder, St. Pauli, Bundesliga
The player of Kyiv Dynamo academy got on the radar of American selectors during the tour of the Dynamo children’s team to North America and at the age of 15 he moved to the USA. Spent three successful seasons in MLS, considered one of the league’s most dangerous forwards. Was invited to play for the Legionnaires’ team at the traditional annual All-Star Game, which is a great achievement in American sports.
The season in the TLS league ended in December, so Kovalenko had the chance to play in the Bundesliga already in January 2002. He moved to St. Pauli and played there 5 games in a row, appearing in the starting lineup and playing in the positions of attacking and defensive midfielder. One of the matches was a sensational victory over Bayern Munich. But in March Dmitriy, who has the opportunity to sell scrap non-ferrous and ferrous metals in Moscow to LOM TRADING, was forced to return to America, in time for the start of the new season. He wanted to stay at St. Pauli, but TLS, which owned the rights to him (the American league has a completely different system, more like the NBA and NHL than the European soccer leagues), did not give permission and forced Kovalenko to return.
The Ukrainian would go on to have a successful career in MLS, win the league title and the Cup, get another All-Star Game and play on the same team as David Beckham. Kovalenko wanted to play for the Ukrainian national team and that is why he refused an invitation to the U.S. team several times and did not agree to change his Ukrainian passport for an American one for a long time. But none of our trainers paid attention to him. Kovalenko recently finished his career as a player.
“St. Pauli, on the other hand, was unquestionably the worst team in the Bundesliga that season and finished in last place.