Throughout the year, Kazakhstan mourned several personalities known for their football-related activities. Duly heralded or not, they deserved praise and respect for their outstanding careers and contributions made into domestic game.
Viktor Abgolts (1944–2017)
A cult figure and an idol for the fans of both Shakhter Karagandy and Kairat Alma-Ata between the 1960s and 1970s, Viktor Abgolts (Abholz) had excellent goalscoring abilities, strong character and unbreakable spirit.
The powerful, combative red-headed striker was the part of the Kairat squad that claimed the historical European Railways Cup in 1971.
Also, he was among the few Kazakhstan players to find the back of the net against the greatest Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
After ending his playing career, during which he made over 300 appearances and scored more than 100 goals, Abgolts acted as a referee and match inspector, officiating domestic competitions for over 15 years.
One of the most remarkable representatives of his footballing generation, Viktor Alexeyevich was and will be respected for his fairness, commitment, courage, sportsmanship and dedication.
Seitzhan Baishakov (1945–2017)
One of the first Kazakh football stars, the talented attacker from Jambyl was given nicknames 'Kazakh Streltsov' and 'Pele' courtesy of his creative style of play and great technical skills.
Seitzhan Baishakov shined in the 1960s for Metallist Jambul (today's FC Taraz), and spent a couple of seasons with Kairat Alma-Ata.
He hadn't fulfilled all his potential but remains in history books as a local legend who paved the way for numerous successors, including his stellar nephew Seilda Baishakov.His football based on strength, explosiveness, impressive dribbling and lethal finishing, inspired a lot of young players and proved to be canonical among the fans who witnessed him performing for his teams.
Viktor Karachun (1959–2017)
The teammates used to call him Viktor-Mototsiklist (Motorcycle Viktor, Viktor the Biker) in reference to his speed and energy on the pitch, with and without the ball.
Belarus-born Viktor Karachun was a gifted forward who left his mark on Kazakhstan football by playing for Tselinnik Tselinograd (one of the Soviet predecessors of FC Astana) in 1983–1985 before moving to Kairat.
With his tenure in Alma-Ata lasting until 1988, Karachun proved himself as an important squad member. He made valuable contributions into Kairat's biggest triumph in the 20th century, seventh-place finish in the extremely competitive top-tier of Soviet football.Most notably, the attacker starred in the 1988 USSR Federation Cup won by Kairat, his 11 goals – four of them in the 4-2 victory over Neftchi Baku in the final game – taking the competition by storm.
Vladimir Mironov (1947–2017)
A footballer and referee from Almaty, Vladimir Mironov spent all his life in the game. He was active in Soviet period, plying his trade at ADK Alma-Ata, the team which competed in lower divisions, and emerging as one of their leading performers.
Mironov was good both technically and tactically and dreamed about Kairat yet couldn't reach their ranks, despite his attempts.
However, he succeeded in football officiating where he gained positive image for his quality refereeing coupled with decent sense of humour.
It is worth noting that Mironov was the last Kazakhstan match official rated as an all-Union referee (the special category in the Soviet refereeing system) in 1991.In the Independent era, Vladimir Pavlovich officiated non-professional tournaments, and attended games at the Almaty Central Stadium on regular basis, being widely known among his colleagues, football veterans and supporters.