Andriy Shevchenko is the Ukrainian national idol who plans the downfall of England who loves golf and has a son at Chelsea academy
THROUGHOUT his career and beyond, Andriy Shevchenko has had an eye for more than football.
Upon his unfortunate arrival at Chelsea in 2006, he was nicknamed “The Assassin” and rightly so.
The 175 goals in 322 games in eight years in two stints at AC Milan will tell you.
But just as he was absorbed in goals and successes on the pitch, the Ukrainian also kept busy.
Fashion has become a big part of his life. He met his American model wife Kristen Pazik in 2002 at a Giorgio Armani party, and has since regularly posed for the design mogul, while opening two branches with him.
A few days after retiring, like his compatriot and ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko, he ventured into politics by running for office to represent the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party.
His love of golf is well known, he owns a house near Wentworth and is often seen playing a few rounds with old Blues buddies John Terry and Gianfranco Zola.
Even during his time in Milan – where he won the Champions League in 2003 and the Ballon d’Or the following year – he forged lasting relationships that garnered media attention.
The controversial former owner of Milan and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the godfather of his eldest son and the couple remain in close contact.
The same can be said for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, with Shevchenko’s move to west London helped by his wife Kristen being friends with Roman’s ex-wife Irina.
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That unlikely Russian-Ukrainian bond still exists to this day as Shevchenko sat with Abramovich in the stands to watch Chelsea win the Champions League in Porto.
But despite all of his connections and hobbies, there was still an inner desire to put those things aside and focus on football again.
In particular, home football, where he is worshiped as a god. A national hero. An icon.
This happened after he became boss of Ukraine in 2016 during his first stint in management.
In a way, he went back to his roots, far from pomp, glamor and golf.
And now, ahead of the very first historic Euro quarter-final against England, Shevchenko’s goal is clearer than ever.
First of all, the 44-year-old – six years younger than Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate – – is a motivator and an inspiring leader.
After scoring his very first Euro goal in 2012 and leading him to a World Cup quarter-final in 2006 as captain, the greatest Ukrainian player of all time is known to be incredibly demanding towards his currently outperforming team.
After winning just one group stage match at Euro 2020 and moving up to third place, he told the media they do NOT deserve to qualify and need to wake up.
They have it now and, tactically, Shevchenko is proving to be astute as well, dropping three behind for the first time to beat Sweden 2-1 in the round of 16.
Although he accepts England’s superiority, he will make sure Ukraine knows what to do to cause incredible upheaval.
He’ll never admit it, but his time in England at Chelsea left his ego bruised and his reputation shattered.
There were murmurs and rumors about his too close relationship with Abramovich, with accusations of being “the professor’s pet.”
Then-boss Jose Mourinho failed to get the Ukrainian superstar to fire on all cylinders.
He has only made 48 Premier League appearances in three years, scoring just nine times.
Some even suggest that it was against another England opponent that he first showed signs of losing his golden touch a few months before joining Chelsea.
Shevchenko was part of the infamous Milan side which lost a 3-0 halftime lead to Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final.
He was fortunate enough to win it in overtime but was turned down by a stunning save from Jerzy Dudek, although many claim it was an unforgivable dud.
And during the penalty shootout, his miss handed the crown to the Reds, as he made his way to West London with his tail between his legs.
But despite his flop at Stamford Bridge from 2006 to 2009, Shevchenko loves London and has lived there for 13 years with his children who all attend English schools.
One of his sons Kristian, 14, is part of Chelsea’s youth academy and could one day play for England thanks to his residency status.
Still, any warmth to England will be sidelined at the Rome Football Coliseum on Saturday.
Italy is where his greatest triumphs as a player have taken place. As a manager, he is considering another.
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