Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian football icon has spoken of his anguish at the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
The football legend spoke during an interview with AFP, disclosing how he shed tears when he “saw children running through a field strewn with missile craters” in Irpin, a commuter town outside Kyiv which was liberated from Russian control.
Shevchenko, a Ballon D’Or winner said he was moved by the eagerness of the children to play football despite the massacre around them.
Shevchenko, 46, whose father was a military man, who despite his upbringing “stood against wars all his life”, was so angry at the Russian invasion in February he “felt such excruciating pain I couldn’t even breathe.”
Speaking on the war, Shevchenko said, “I couldn’t comprehend the fact that bombs are falling and rockets are flying in the centre of democratic Europe now.
“They fly towards my home, towards everything I love. I had to decide on what I should do to help my country quickly.
“I thought about everything I’m capable of and where I can be most effective.
“And I realised that I have to use the power of my name, to fight for Ukraine publicly.”
Shevchenko, unlike some Ukrainian sports stars who took up arms, chose an ambassadorial role to showcase his country’s plight.
See Also: Russian Troops Have Raped More Than 100 Ukrainians With Victims As Young As Four – UN
The 2003 Champions League winner with AC Milan and top tennis player Elina Svitolina “immediately” accepted an invitation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to become ambassadors for a charity called United24.
He met the president in Kyiv on May 18.
“It was the first time I came to Ukraine since February 24, the war had been going on for two and a half months already, and Russian troops had only just retreated from the city.
“I saw an empty, and yet indomitable, Kyiv. It was a very emotional moment for me, as well as my meeting with the president.”
The charity was launched by Zelensky to collect donations to cover Ukraine’s most pressing needs: Defence and de-mining, medical aid and to rebuild the country which has been devastated since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion.
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