Andriy Shevchenko: The King of Ukraine

Andriy Shevchenko: The King of Ukraine

The history of Ukrainian football is inexorably intertwined with one name: Andriy Shevchenko.

Sheva has been the dominant figure pretty much since his country gained independence in the 1990s, a talisman on the pitch and in the dug-out.

While he is known to millions for his brilliance at Dynamo Kiev, AC Milan and (slightly less so) at Chelsea, at home he is a national icon with god-like status – and rightly so.

Following its breakaway from the Soviet Union, Ukraine played Hungary in its first official match on 29 April 1992. And just two years and ten months later, an 18-year-old Andriy first took to the field for his country. Another year later he scored his first goal and in doing so became his nation’s youngest ever goalscorer.




Skip forward 16 years and a now 35-year-old Shevchenko captained his side as they battled it out on home soil at Euro 2012. His two goals against Sweden in the side’s historic 2-1 win were the last he ever scored for his country and gave Shevchenko the remarkable distinction of concurrently being both Ukraine’s youngest and oldest goalscorer.

Following the conclusion of the tournament he retired from football, meaning that his final ever game as a player came for his country - another distinction few others can claim.

Following his retirement, he stepped away from the game for a few years to try his hand in the world of politics, but after a hiatus of little over three years he was back with the national side, initially as an assistant manager before taking on the role of manager in July 2016, a position he held until last summer.

All of this got us thinking: just how many of the of the matches in Ukraine’s entire history has Andriy Shevchenko actually been involved in?




Prior to Sheva appearing in his first international at 18, Ukraine had taken part in just 19 games as a nation. The next two decades would see him play over 100 internationals.

Friendlies and the very occasional dead rubber qualifying game were missed due to club commitments – a total of 43 over his long career. Sheva also had to sit out 15 games for various injuries.

These absences combined to mean that between his debut in 1995 and his retirement from football in 2012, Shevchenko missed 58 games for Ukraine.

His period away from the national team, between leaving as a player and re-joining as a coach, saw them play 35 games.

When added all up it means Shevchenko his either been directly on the field, more often than not as captain, or leading his nation from the sidelines in 61% of all the games Ukraine has ever played.




When the friendlies he missed as a player are factored in, the overall percentage of purely competitive Ukraine fixtures that Sheva has been involved is significantly higher.

For close to 30 years, the chances are if you watched a Ukraine game, Shevchenko would be at the heart of it.

We reckon those sums add up to make him a gold-plated cult hero – in Ukraine and everywhere else.





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