Iain Hepburn | July 29, 2012
Somewhat lost among the deluge of news about the Olympics, pre-season transfer speculation and skydiving members of the British monarchy came the news that Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko had called time on his remarkable career.
The 35-year-old brought the curtain down on his career in style this summer, earning the last of his 111 caps for the Ukraine on home soil as he played for the national team at Euro 2012. And in front of fans who worshiped him, he did this:
After a childhood disrupted by the Chernobyl disaster, he caught the eye of a Dynamo Kiev scout playing in a youth tournament in 1986, and made his first team debut aged just 18 in 1994. Shevchenko would go on to score 60 goals in 11 appearances for Kiev over the next five years – including a hat-trick against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in November 1997 which pretty much cemented his reputation as one of Europe’s top strikers.
He would eventually move to AC Milan in 1999 for Dh 91.8m, and was Serie A’s top scorer in his debut season with the Rossoneri. At the San Siro he went on to win the Ballon d’Or, and the Champions League -and establish himself as the club’s second highest goalscorer of all time, notching 175 goals in 296 games.
Then came Chelsea, and the persistent approaches of the club’s Russian owner Roman Abrhamovich. A £31m transfer saw the Ukrainian move to London, and a spell that could charitably be described as indifferent. Nine goals in 46 appearances only tells part of the story – while Abramovitch wanted him, manager Jose Mourinho did not, and the player struggled to cement a regular place in the Stamford Bridge line-up. Mourinho’s replacement by Avram Grant meant Shevchenko was back in the line-up, but the arrival of ‘Big Phil’ Scolari saw him deemed surplus to requirements, and loaned back to Milan.
Shevchenko returned to his first club, Dynamo Kiev, in 2009, after largely flopping in his second spell in Italy, and despite age and injury managed to regain his form somewhat. Ukraine clearly meant a lot to him – as evidenced by the remarkable 48 international goals scored in a 16-year career for the national side.
That career came to an end with Ukraine’s exit to England at Euro 2012, where he bowed out as both the country’s youngest and oldest international goalscorer. Now, from national hero he is reportedly looking to move into politics, the boots hung up for the last time.
By way of a tribute, this is a lovely collection of five of his most impressive goals from a career. The final one, for Milan against Juve, is just stunning.