KIEV: Oleg Blokhin takes Ukraine into its home European championships as manager, hoping to inspire the team with his successes from the glory days of Soviet football in the 1970s and 1980s. “This tournament is very important for all of us and very special for me personally as I never played at the European championships during my playing career,” Blokhin said. The 59-year-old — who set an impressive series of records in his playing days with Dynamo Kiev and the USSR — took over Ukraine’s national team for the first time in December 2003 in the midst of a dreadful run of form. So, when Blokhin promised at his first press conference to “qualify for the 2006 World Cup by winning our group”, few people took him seriously. But he kept his word by leading his side all the way into the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by eventual champions Italy.