Andriy Shevchenko: Ukraine are fighting 'for all of democracy'

Shevchenko has been helping Ukraine's efforts from afar
Shevchenko has been helping Ukraine's efforts from afar / PressFocus/MB Media/GettyImages

Andriy Shevchenko has opened up on his experiences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, insisting his country are fighting 'for all of democracy'.

The AC Milan legend has been working closely with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's United24 initiative in wake of the conflict.

Speaking to The Players' Tribune, Shevchenko admitted that he was supposed to be in his home country with his mother when the Russians first invaded on February 24.

"I felt so helpless. And I felt guilty," he said.

"I was supposed to be there in Kyiv with my mum. It had been her birthday a couple of days before and we were going to have a family dinner at her place with my sister and a few friends. I'd even booked my flights from the 19th to the 29th, but because of some paperwork I'd had to do in the UK, I'd changed my flight out for the 26th."

He added: "My first instinct was to get my family out of the country, but my mum and my sister both told me the same thing - I remember the words of my mum on the phone so clearly: 'I'm not going to leave now. This is my home'.

Shevchenko's instinct was to return to Ukraine immediately, but his mother was against the idea.

"She said to me, 'Andriy, what are you going to do here? You are not a soldier. You need to stay where you are. Go to the media. Tell them the truth of what is happening here. This war is not only on the ground with guns and bombs. It is information. You can use your profile, your connections. Raise funds. Get supplies and support. You can help more from where you are'," he continued.

Shevchenko then explained that his generation have grown up hand-in-hand with Ukraine as an independent nation and so they feel even more of an affinity towards defending their land.

He insisted that while life is beginning to return to normal in some parts of the country, the war is not over and the world cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening.

"We are more than six months into the war now," Shevchenko said.

"Thanks to the incredible resilience of our military and the response of the democratic world, we can say that we're still here. Some people are returning home. The football season has even restarted. We are fighting for a normal life.

"But this is not over. It is not time to change the channel. On the 24th of February, we didn't have time to think, to grieve, to be anything other than shocked. But we feel everything now. The pain and destruction is there for everyone to see. Do not look away.

"Make no mistake, this can happen anywhere. It affects everyone. This is not just a fight for Ukraine, but also for all of democracy.

"You may be reading this thinking you are safe, that this is just some faraway place, that it can't really touch you. Maybe many people in Ukraine thought the same way just a short time ago. The truth is that the world doesn't work this way. This can happen again and again if we don't learn the lessons and stand together."

You can read the full piece by Andriy Shevchenko at The Players' Tribune