Andriy Shevchenko has told Sky Sports News his family refused to leave Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and said his country was ‘united for freedom’.
Shevchenko, one of Ukraine’s most famous sportsmen, was the manager of the country’s national team until last summer and started and ended his playing career in the country’s capital with Dynamo Kyiv.
The 45-year-old stayed in London during the conflict to help lead the call for humanitarian aid in his country and has opened up about the scale of the atrocities he hears about through his family.
He said: “I talk to my parents, I talk to my mother and I say I want to go back, but my feeling is there now, to talk about what is happening, about the real tragedy that the Ukrainian people are facing. right now.
“My thought is to try to make people understand the situation, the human side of the situation that we are facing. I tried to speak to the foundation, to raise funds and to help the Ukrainian society there- low.
“I am so proud to be Ukrainian. This is a very difficult time for my country, my people, my family. My mother and my sister are in Kyiv right now, and terrible things have happened there. people are dying, children are dying, missiles pointing at our homes.
“We have to stop this war, we have to find a way to stop the war. We have refugees, we need humanitarian aid. We need medical support, food support. I feel like I can do a lot here, and I will.
“I tried [to convince my family to leave] several times I have spoken to them, but the answer is no. They want to stay there. It’s the Ukrainian spirit.”
Shevchenko said football had lost all importance to him given his country’s situation, but fully supported the decision to suspend Russia indefinitely from international matches and the expulsion of Russian teams from European competition this season as well.
However, he added that the world should go further, given that Russian athletes – although not under their country’s banner – will still be able to compete in the Paralympic Winter Games, which begin later this week.
He said: “It’s a great reaction from institutions like UEFA and FIFA to make the right decision.
“I don’t think it’s a difficult decision. When you attack a country, when you start sending bombs and soldiers, it’s not a conflict, it’s a real war.
“When the war didn’t stop, I think it’s the right decision not to allow any Russian athlete to participate in a sporting event.
“Football no longer exists for me. I don’t think about it. Now is not the time for that. I don’t watch anything, any sport, anything.
“All my focus, when I wake up thinking about how I can help my country, what I can do. I started calling my parents, my friends, getting updates on what’s going on. goes to Ukraine.
“For me, that’s my field, that’s my focus now.”
Wladimir Klitschko: Ukraine needs supplies and support
Wladimir Klitschko has urged other countries to provide Ukraine with supplies and financial support after the Russian invasion, with the former world heavyweight boxing champion fearing the attack could spread to other nations.
Talk to Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett, Klitschko – who took up arms – praised the Western world for “standing for and with” Ukraine, but said further help was imperative.
“Coming to our house and killing our men, women and children is not humane, anything any human can do,” Klitschko, 45, said.
“We need supplies, we need food, we need medicine. We need all support, financial support, because we are alone in this.
“But, in a way, we are all together. The Western democratic world is for us and with us. This war, if it does not stop in Ukraine, it will spread.
“If any of you think, ‘it’s in Ukraine, I don’t care’, you should do it. Don’t underestimate it, we should deal with it quickly.
“Stopping this Russian aggression in any way is crucial. We don’t have time to hesitate, it must be done quickly.
“It’s just unimaginable what happens in this beautiful country to these beautiful people.”
If you would like to support the relief effort in Ukraine, please donate through the WithUkraine Global Support Fund to: www.withukraine.org