In summer 2010, Schalke 04 forward Kevin Kuranyi signed a contract with Dynamo Moscow. He had already made a name for himself in Germany playing for Stuttgart and Schalke, and was looking for a new challenge. As a free agent, he could have gone anywhere. Ultimately, he chose the Russian Premier League. Though there was interest from Zenit St Petersburg, who, unlike Dynamo, had already won the league title in the post-Soviet championship, the Moscow club had piqued his interest. Ironically, his first goal for the Blue-and-Whites was in a 1:1 draw against Zenit.
Not all foreign players fit in well with the dynamic of the RPL. Kuranyi took no time at all to adapt to the league as well as his club, netting in 9 goals in his first 16 games. He even learned some Russian over the years, which he demonstrated while answering interview questions, although he'd often alternate with English and his native Portuguese.
In 2011, Kuranyi was part of a great Dynamo lineup, one of the best they've had in the modern era. As part of Dynamo's "Fab Five" with Andriy Voronin, Aleksandr Samedov, Igor Semshov and Aleksandr Kokorin, he contributed immensely in the attack, playing out combinations with just about any teammate. He paired up especially well with Voronin - the two combined to score some amazing goals. His trademark headers found the net more often than not, and became a real threat to the opposition, especially on set pieces. When asked about his best goal for Dynamo, he opted for a scissor-kick in the 2:2 derby draw with Lokomotiv in May 2012.
Before the start of the 2012/13 season, Kuranyi was given the captain's armband. With or without it, though, he's been nothing but a true leader on the pitch. Every forward has a goal drought at some point in his career; regardless, Kuranyi continued to be a role model for the other players, and worked harder than ever to create chances. He's shown the kind of resilience in football that Michael Jordan was known for in basketball - his success was partly the result of failing over and over again.
Kuranyi has been instrumental to Dynamo's attack in both the domestic tournament as well as in Europe, scoring many goals that proved to be game-changers. His third game for the Blue-and-Whites was a Moscow derby against Lokomotiv, a 3:0 win for Dynamo in which he scored his first double. In 2012/13, Kuranyi scored a late equalizer against FC Khimki. He revived his side just in time and inspired an 18-year-old Andrei Panyukov to net in Dynamo's 2nd goal, giving them a 2:1 win that sent them to the quarter-finals of the Russian Cup.
Although Kuranyi didn't score in Dynamo's UEFA Europa League campaign that season, he made a difference in 2014/15. He tied the game in the first leg of the 3rd qualifying round against Hapoel, and again in the second leg, which Dynamo won 2:1. His late goal in the 2nd leg group stage game against Estoril saw Dynamo through to the knockout stage. He played an important role in two historic moments for Dynamo, contributing to their first-ever Europa League group and knockout stage campaigns.
He scored his 49th and 50th goal for Dynamo earlier this season in a 3:0 win against Terek Grozny, one of eight doubles in his spell at Dynamo. He came ever-so-close to a hat-trick on multiple occasions, just as the club neared a top 3 finish time and again. However, with seven games left to play, the season is far from over, and football, as we all know, is full of surprises.
Kuranyi is loved by Dynamo fans not just for his technique, but also for his behavior off the pitch. He is the kind of player who always makes time for his fans, and is always loyal to his club. He had barely joined Dynamo when he was presented with a possible move to Anzhi, a promising, big-budget project at the time. He politely declined - when Kuranyi makes up his mind about something, you can bet he'll see it through to the end. He also has his dignity and a good sense of self-worth. He was recently offered a new, one-year contract by Dynamo, and turned it down. The offer was almost three times less than his current salary, as per Dynamo's pay cut to new contracts to fulfill UEFA's financial fair play regulations. The second highest-paid player in the Russian Premier League after Hulk, Kuranyi had already hinted at his family's desire to return to Germany. The club's unsatisfactory offer was simply the period at the end of a sentence.
In five years at Dynamo, Kuranyi made 146 appearances, scored 56 goals, made 24 assists, and won the hearts of many Russian football fans. He was one of the few veteran players left at the club after Voronin and Semshov's departure. As the summer transfer window approaches, it feels like another era at Dynamo is coming to an end.
It may not be the end of an era for Kuranyi. At 33, he's in great shape, and may yet sign for another club. Any side in the Bundesliga would be lucky to have the forward on their roster. No matter where he plays, there's no doubt he'll continue inspiring football's next generation while leaving his own mark on the pitch.