Former Ukraine and AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko is raising money through a charity football match at London’s Stamford Bridge to help his war-ravaged country.
The game on August 5 will involve current players and “legends of Arsenal, Chelsea, AC Milan”, Shevchenko told Reuters on Wednesday after visiting a school in Chernihiv that was partially destroyed by Russian bombs in March last year.
The funds raised through the Ukraine government’s United24 platform will be used to rebuild the school with the cost estimated at 1.7 million USD.
Shevchenko has been joined in the project by fellow Ukrainian and current Arsenal player Oleksandr Zinchenko.
“It’s a very important school because it’s the only one in the region that can give education to the children,” Shevchenko said.
“That school was destroyed by Russian missiles. A couple of classes were destroyed.
“Today we heard a lot of stories coming from children, telling how Russian forces come to the houses with guns and scaring the children. About parents disappearing and some of them never coming back.
“The most important mission is to take the war out of the minds of children,” said the 46-year-old Shevchenko, who ended his playing career in 2012 after wearing the shirts of Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan and Chelsea.
Zinchenko does not return to Ukraine often.
“I hadn’t been here for a while and as soon as I passed the border I felt at home. Even with all these scary things, this is my land,” the softly-spoken Arsenal wingback said.
“Ukrainian kids growing up with the war - that’s what it’s about,” he added.
“Kids in (western) Europe- they don’t know what sirens are. It’s the scariest of things.”
Shevchenko is confident Ukraine will continue to resist what Moscow calls a “special operation”.
“We fight to have a right to exist,” said Shevchenko. “For our democracy, our life, our families.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy supports the initiative.
“The Game4Ukraine at Stamford Bridge is an opportunity for the football community all over the world to unite, show solidarity, help Ukraine, help our children return to their school desks, and also attract the attention of the entire world community to the war again,” he said.
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