Everything you need to know about King Kong Boyko

Updated: January 19, 2016

It seems like Beşiktaş have finally found their new goalkeeper and as you all know by now his name is Denys Boyko. But who is Denys Boyko, what kind of goalkeeper is he and what are his strengths and his weaknesses?

Denys Boyko was born on the 29th of January 1988 in the Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv. He started his professional career at the biggest club in the Ukraine, Dynamo Kyiv. A club which Beşiktaş is quite familiar with as they have faced off six times over the past 15 years in the Europa League.

Many people expected Boyko to eventually succeed Dynamo Kyiv’s legendary goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy. But due to problems off the pitch, Boyko ended up in the bad graces of the club and was sent on four different loan spells before eventually making a permanent move away from Kyiv to Dnipro.

Issues off the pitch

But what were those issues off the pitch? In 2008 Denys Boyko was accused of, together with his teammate Vladimir Lysenko, beat a man in a club in Kyiv after they went out to celebrate a victory. The man had to receive several years of physical therapy as a result of his injuries and also had to undergo several operations. According to the victim, the players were both intoxicated.

Another incident occured after Boyko went out after a victory over the Netherlands with the U21 national team, he did not have permission to go but went anyway and in the following morning was arrested by the traffic police after they had spotted his car “swerving” on the road and he reacted “aggresively” upon being stopped and questioned.

Dynamo coach Oleg Luzhny after this vowed that he would not use Boyko in any senior matches and dropped him to the reserves. Denys Boyko went on to apologize publically but short thereafter he was loaned out.

Winning the hearts of the fansBoyko Pyro

The Ukrainian football federation were cracking down hard on pyro at the time and dishing out heavy fines, however after a victory over Shakthar Donetsk what did Boyko do? He went to celebrate with the Ultras and held up a lit pyro torch. Resulting in a heavy fan but at the same time he conquered the hearts of the fans.

The fact is that the Dnipro fans at first weren’t very open to Boyko’s arrival at their club after an incident in 2011. While on loan at Kryvy Rih, which ended 2-0 in favour of the visitors, the entire squad gathered in the mid circle to celebrate their victory apart from Denys Boyko who turned to the Dnipro fans and raised his arms to celebrate. According to the Dnipro fans he taunted them with offensive gestures.

But after his impressive performance and determination which he showed on the pitch, he convinced the Dnipro Ultras and even assured them that he meant no harm on that faithful day back in 2011.

The ‘bad boy’ of Ukrainian football

Denys Boyko is surely famous for being one of, perhaps the, bad boy of Ukrainian football in the past few years. Not only has he stirred controversy on and off the pitch but he he’s also well known for his flamboyant hairstyles and full arm tattoos (sleeves). Making him a very remarkable character that you won’t easily miss earning him his bad boy reputation.

On the pitch…

Okay we’ve now sketched you a bit of Denys Boyko’s personality, despite being only 27 he has had quite a bit of controversy in his career in the early years. Although it seems that over the past 4 years he has settled down a bit and has worked very hard to improve as a footballer. So let’s get to probably the most important aspect of the a football player, how he performs on the pitch.

Denys Boyko was an instrumental figure in Dnipro’s Europa League glory last season, with his important saves against the likes of Ajax Amsterdam and Napoli he helped to secure the team’s spot int he 2014-2015 Europa League finals, losing narrowly to Sevilla 3-2, but even in that final Boyko made a name for himself by really keeping Dnipro in the match until the final whistle.

Many of you are probably familiar with his impressive performance in Europe but Denys Boyko has done more than shine in Europe. During his first two seasons at Dnipro he managed to keep 38 clean sheets in 82 appearances. But those are just statistics, what are his strengths? What are his weaknesses?

His height is definitely something which he uses to his advantage, at 197cm you won’t find many players who are taller than him in the Football world. But despite of being a tall guy, he is far from slow, Boyko has the ability to go to ground quickly but just as quickly he can get back up. This comes in very handy when he has to parry a rebound after making an initial save.

Due to his height he has a clear advantage in the air, Boyko is not afraid to leave his line and is determined to win any aerial duel he goes in to. If he sees no option to hold on to the ball he will gladly throw his full body in to the duel without feat of injury to clear the ball with his fists. This characteristic has seen him injure several opposition players in the past. He is an aggresive goalkeeper, because he is a very determined and confident player. Maybe he has the tendency to punch the ball a little too often to my liking, but he always tries to make sure that the ball is cleared away from danger, which is something I did not see with Cássio Ramos (another goalkeeper we were linked with this January). He also has impressive reflexes and is a very imposing figure while rushing out of goal, something which frequently gives him the edge in one on one situations, in addition to his height he also has the ability to jump quite high which makes it more difficult to beat him with a lobbed ball while he comes off his line.

In his early years however, and still but much more rarely, Boyko seems a bit over-confident. Which sometimes results in silly mistakes, like a nonchalant ball control. This has led to some goals in the past, so don’t expect him to never make a mistake. But honestly, which goalkeeper never makes mistakes?

While making mistkaes is never a good thing, these are things that happen and what is most important after making a mistake is your reaction. Boyko is an extremely self-confident goalkeeper and has shown his resilience after making mistkaes by picking up where he left off and simply continues to work hard and do his job. A big advantage he has over Tolga Zengin in my opinion, the fact that he does not doubt himself. He reminds me a lot of Volkan Demirel in that way, perhaps not something most of you will like to read, but that isn’t really a bad thing. Most of you may not remember but when Volkan was younger, he made a lot of big mistakes. Other goalkeepers would have crumbled and faded away, but Volkan to this day is still Fenerbahçe’s #1 at age 34. Boyko has that same exact mental resilience, something which sets him apart from other goalkeepers. Over the past decades the Black Eagles have had too many goalkeepers who did not have enough mental resilience: Fevsi Tuncay, Mathias Asper, Hakan Arikan, Cenk Gönen and now Tolga Zengin. Denys Boyko isn’t only a better goalkeeper that these players, he is also much more capable of performing under tremendous pressure. Boyko has shown himself to be a big game type player, exactly what Beşiktaş needs.


Hell, he is KING KONG baby…



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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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