With the Olympic Games hogging all the space in the papers this past week, one far more important football news story has ended being given far less fanfare than it deserves.
This week Andriy Shevchenko announced his retirement from the sport to pursue a career in politics – bringing to an end one of the greatest careers in the history of European football. Having started out with local-side Dynamo Kiev, Shevchenko’s name became more and more well known throughout the mid-nineties, before he officially burst onto the scene with a hat-trick at the Camp Nou in 1997 and another three goals against Real Madrid in the 1998 Champions League quarter final s.
It was at AC Milan where he truly cemented his name in the history books however, scoring 24 goals in his first season. He went on to become the clubs second highest all-time goalscorer, scoring another 24 goals in their 2003/04 league winning campaign under Carlo Ancelotti; he also scored the winning penalty in 2003 Champions League final and still holds the record with 14 goals scored in matches between Inter and AC Milan.
There were some low-lights however to Sheva’s career – notably missing the crucial penalty against Liverpool in the 2005 UCL final, he also endured a disappointing two years at Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, struggling to adapt to the English game in the later years of his career.
Despite never really recovering from that slump, Shevchenko carried on, returning to former clubs AC Milan and Dynamo Kiev, with the prospect of leading out his country on home soil at Euro 2012 enough to avoid an early retirement. The games proved to be a fitting swansong for the striker who scored twice against Sweden to give Ukraine brief hopes of qualification from the group – though it wasn’t meant to be.
It’s a shame to think some people will remember Shevchenko for being a major flop at Chelsea. Luckily though there are plenty of educated football fans out there who will remember the forward for what he was – one of the greatest players and men that the sport has ever seen.
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