Paichadze, il marinaio che diventò un campione: leggenda a Tbilisi, iniziò col calcio dopo uno scherzo di cattivo gusto

The long awaited day has arrived. From the port of Batumi a ship is about to set sail for England and for the young Boris Paichadze it is the crowning of a dream.

What he always wanted: to work on a ship and travel the world.

England then! He who fell in love with that sport from the English sailors and their improvised football matches between one embarkation and another.

There are a few hours left before the ship sets sail and he will leave behind Poti’s life, family, friends of the local football team and the hardships of a life on the verge of misery.

Boris is given a telegram.

“Your father is dying. He goes back home “.

Boris takes the first train and rushes to Poti, where his family lives.

It arrives that it is already past midnight and, to his great surprise, it is his father who opens the door for him.

“How are you daddy?” an astonished Boris asks his father Solomon.

“A bit sleepy given the time,” his father says jokingly, “but I’m fine. Why are you asking me and above all what are you doing here? “.

Boris shows him the telegram.

The father and all family members are completely in the dark.

His ship has now sailed and Boris just has to find out who could have played a similar “joke” on him.

In the meantime, it turns out that Boris is back and many are happy with it.

First of all his teammates in the Poti, now resigned to losing their best player.

A few days later, in fact, there is a match with the great rivals of Batumi, the city from which Boris should have embarked for the United Kingdom.

Boris does not initially intend to play.

He is still deeply angry about that bad joke that took away his chance to change his life.

In addition, he has not played for a long time and for someone as strong as him, making petty figures is simply not contemplated.

It is precisely the father who, seeing his son so angry and downcast, convinces him.

“Come on Boris, you like playing football and at least for a couple of hours you won’t think about it.”

Boris will play that game, Poti will defeat Batumi by two goals and it will be Boris Paichadze who will score the two goals for his team.

A few months after Dinamo Tbilisi, the most important club in Georgia shows up at Boris’ home.

The coach, the Franco-Hungarian Jules Limbeck, has been following him for some time and has not a single doubt about it: Boris Paichadze will become a Dinamo player and one of the strongest players in the country.

Georgia has given so many great players to football history. Davit Q’ipiani was probably the most celebrated but names like those of Murtaz Khurtsilava, Vit’ali Daraselia, Ramaz Šengelija, Alexandre Chivadze or more recently Giorgi Kinkladze and Shota Arveladze are known to most football fans.

But there is a name outside the borders of Georgia that does not, for various reasons, have the fame that everyone recognizes in his country … to the point of naming the national stadium after him!

His name is Boris Paichadze.

From Chokhatauri, a small town in the interior, the Paichadze family moved to Poti, an important center on the Black Sea where the father found work as a port.

It is here that in the early 1920s the little Boris, born in February 1915, made his acquaintance with “foot-ball”, this game that seems to drive the English crazy who in every free moment of the day give life to lively games in the squares or fields of the port town on the Black Sea.

At sixteen he is already a starter in his hometown team but Boris, although he is clearly superior to all his teammates, has other goals.

He likes to study and after completing compulsory school with full marks he enrolled in the Navy for a course in Mechanics.

Start going back and forth on the “Tendra” oil tanker between Batumi and the Ukrainian port of Odessa… until the day comes when the opportunity comes for a job as a mechanical engineer on a ship to England.

… ship on which Boris will never get on to become one of the best footballers in the history of his country.


Well, if you’ve made it this far, it’s only fair that you know who sent Boris Paichadze “That” telegram that actually changed his life.

It was a certain Kako Imnadze, his teammate from the Poti who devised that system in order to have Boris at his side for the important match against Batumi!

… Boris will find out exactly fifty years later… when the anger had now turned into relief given the excellent career with shoes on instead of one with a wrench in hand!

From the time of his debut with the Poti the class of Boris Paichadze he stood out so clearly that even his opponents were careful not to play too hard against him. Even the opposing coaches took care to instruct their boys not to risk hurting a player of such skill.

It happens, however, that in a game this suggestion is not taken into consideration in the least by one of Paichadze’s opponents who repeatedly continues to hit the talent of the Poti with violence.

Boris Paichadze asks neither for protection from the referee nor for leniency from the opponent.

No, he simply decides to pay him back with the same coin… with the opponent forced to leave the field limping.

Legend has it that the referee didn’t notice anything …

It is said that Solomon, the father of Borishe was not particularly attracted to football considering it a “lazy” pastime and advising his son not to devote himself too vigorously to this practice.

One day, returning from work, Solomon hears shouts, applause and even a band playing from the town’s soccer field.

Intrigued, he approaches and realizes that his son Boris is also on the pitch.

He was the one who scored the winning goal for Poti in that match with the “Metalist”.

At the end of the game the fans bring their favorites in triumph before the eyes of an incredulous Solomon who shortly after, upon his arrival at home, will tell his wife what he has seen.

“But where did our son learn to play football so well?” Boris’ father will ask his wife, becoming from that day the first supporter of the son.

The real turning point in Boris Paichadze’s career came a few weeks after his missed departure for England.

In fact, his team was invited to an endless series of friendly matches and small local tournaments in Ukraine and especially in Donbass, a region in the south-east of the country.

The Poti closed the tour with twenty-eight wins, one draw and not even one defeat.

Paichadze’s performances were of such a level that it was at that point that Dinamo Tbilisi decided to sign the young striker.

During that tour in Ukraine, a very special thing happened which for years was the subject of loud laughter among the members of the Poti team.

In Odessa in those days the national team of Turkey was expected who was on tour in the Soviet Union and had to go to the city on the Black Sea to play against the local team.

When the day of the Turkish team’s game arrives there is no news.

The city, however, is full of posters advertising the event and the embarrassment is considerable.

In those parts, however, there is also the Poti team that is doing its tour nearby. Paichadze and his teammates are rushed into contact and sent out to play against the locals… with the Turkish anthem before the match and the Turkish flag in plain sight.

However, the trick lasts for a few minutes before the public realizes that there is not even a shadow of Turks on the pitch, also due to the presence of several Poti spectators who had immediately recognized their boys.

Luckily the local fans took it with a lot of spirit… even if they had to witness a victory… for Turkey.

Paichadze made his Dinamo debut at the age of twenty-one, in September 1936against Dynamo Kiev… obviously scoring a goal!

He will close his first season in the Soviet Serie A with thirteen goals in twelve games.

However, his move to Dinamo Tbilisi takes place in special circumstances.

To want Paichadze at all costs is none other than the feared Lavrentij Pavlovič Beria, head of the secret police of the Soviet Union and Stalin’s right-hand man.

Beria is Georgian and a true football fanatic and dreams of taking his beloved Dinamo Tbilisi to the top of Soviet football.

Ivane Vashakmadze, deus ex machina del Poti, can do nothing but watch helplessly as her jewel is “stolen”.

But there is another reason that convinces Boris Paichadze to sign without raising problems for Dinamo Tbilisi. In fact, his father Solomon has been a prisoner in a Gulag for some months and Boris hopes that thanks to the intercession of Beria his father will be able to return to freedom.

Time passes and his father Boris is unable to get news also because he is strongly advised against testing the patience of Beria, a true proponent of the “Stalinist purges” and de facto master of the lives of millions of Soviet citizens.

When Boris finally found the courage to approach Beria we are in 1942 and the war is almost upon us.

The answer is terrible.

“His father is dead Boris. But where were you all this time? “

Boris Paichadze will play his entire career in Dinamo Tbilisilosing due to the war conflict the seasons between 1942 and 1944 or those between 27 and 29 years, probably those potentially best in a footballer’s career.

In this period for Dinamo Tbilisi, seven podiums will arrive (three second and four third places) but the first title for the Georgia club will come only in 1964.

Boris Paichadze will retire from football at 36, in 1951, also thanks to a serious knee injury. Paichadze will die in 1990, at the age of 75 and the following year the national stadium of Tbilisi will be named after him.

Universal striker, gifted with a great technique, a powerful and precise shot but also a dedication to the fight that is truly admirable for such a talented footballer.

It will be he who in 2001 the Georgian people will vote as “Best footballer of the country of the 20th century”.

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