KIEV, Ukraine, November 8 – Ukraine’s veteran star Andriy Shevchenko may have entered the final stage of a glorious career but he is hoping to overcome injuries for a final crowning achievement with success at Euro 2012.
The European championships, which Ukraine co-hosts with Poland, would be the perfect occasion for the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner and current Dynamo Kiev star to win honours for his country before hanging up his boots.
Ukraine’s national manager Oleg Blokhin, himself a football icon in the Soviet era, has repeatedly said that Shevchenko remains an integral member of his team, whose skills and experience would be vital at the championships.
“Andriy (Shevchenko) is not just another football player,” Blokhin said. “He is also a person of tremendous and indisputable authority, who is so necessary for our team.”
“I hope he’ll be able to overcome his injuries and gain his form for the start of the European championship. Meanwhile, we will do everything we can to help him.”
Blokhin has called the Dynamo Kiev striker into his line-up to play friendlies against Germany at Kiev on November 11 and Austria at Lviv on November 15.
Shevchenko, who is suffering from chronic pain in his back, said he was undergoing courses of medical treatment in Germany and England and was hopeful he would be ready to join his country’s squad at the Euro-2012.
“I will join the national side at the European championships only if I feel myself good and ready to stand the competition for a place in the line-up,” Shevchenko told AFP.
“If I experience health problems and fail to make the strict demands to be a national team member I will not go onto the pitch. I don’t want to disgrace our team and myself.”
Shevchenko added that although he may not be fully match fit on a level with his glory days at Dynamo Kiev and AC Milan, he was still able to be useful for the team.
“I will do everything expected of me to be ready and fit for the European championships. However, only Blokhin will decide whether I’m good enough to play in his squad at the Euro-2012.”
Yury Syomin, the manager of Dynamo Kiev, Shevchenko’s native club, where he won five domestic titles, meanwhile underlined his importance for the national side.
The coach said that the club had been doing its best to help the 35-year-old veteran prepare and get fully fit for the European championships.
“Andriy is an outstanding talent, who deserves full respect both as a player and a person,” Syomin said.
“We are trying to help him to play in the European championship in his top form. This season we decided to give him more time for rest and recreation and he’s playing mainly in Dynamo’s home matches at Kiev.”
Shevchenko’s partners in Ukraine’s national side also value his services highly, considering him to be not only a top-class player but also a reliable partner.
“Together with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Olexander Shovkovskiy, Andriy (Shevchenko) is a symbol of Ukraine’s national side,” said Ukrainian international forward Andriy Voronin, who is playing with Russian club Dynamo Moscow.
“It’s just impossible to imagine our squad without him,” Voronin added. “And I will be really happy to play at the Euro-2012 with him.”