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AC Milan icon Andriy Shevchenko thanks former club for supporting Ukraine amid war effort

By Ben Church and Becky Anderson, CNN

Ukrainian soccer legend Andriy Shevchenko has thanked AC Milan for its “incredible effort” in offering support to his country amid the war effort.

Shevchenko, who played over 300 times for the Italian team, says the help from his former club has provided much needed respite for Ukrainians fleeing the violence.

While raising money and accepting donations for relief and rebuilding efforts, the club’s foundation also set up helplines to support families arriving in Italy.

The foundation is currently being considered for the CNN Off The Pitch Award at the Globe Soccer Awards, which will be hosted in Dubai on November 17.

“It was an incredible effort that the Milan Foundation did for Ukraine since the war started,” Shevchenko told CNN’s Becky Anderson.

“I had this phone call from the Milan Foundation and they tried to immediately help with a nice program together with the Mayor of Milan, to help Ukrainian refugees.

“The refugees started coming from Ukraine across the border, most of the people didn’t have any documents because you had to leave the house immediately […] because the missiles.

“I think so many European countries started to help […] and just let all the Ukrainian people come and have some place to stay and some food and the minimum that the Ukrainian people need at that moment.”

The Off the Pitch category will recognize the achievements of an individual, club or other soccer organization for their impact on wider society and culture as well as charitable work.

The nominees for best men’s player at the Globe Soccer Awards include recent Balon D’Or winner Karim Benzema and Real Madrid teammate, Thibaut Courtois. In the women’s category, FC Barcelona star Alexia Putellas and England defender Lucy Bronze are up for contention.

In an interview with CNN in August, Shevchenko asked the world not to forget about those still facing imminent danger and he’s set about using his platform to help those in need, including the rebuilding of a soccer stadium.

The Central City Stadium in Irpin, close to Kyiv, had been devastated by fighting and Shevchenko says he contacted officials to see how he could help after seeing children playing on the pitch.

“I spoke to the mayor, I asked him how I can help, what I can do for the city,” he said, adding that he was asked to help rebuild the stadium.

“I [asked him] why from everything I saw, hospitals that have been completely destroyed, ‘Why the football pitch?’

“He said because the families have started coming back and we need a place for the children, we need to find a place where they have some fun, play some sport and most of our kids love football.”

Shevchenko, in tandem with the ‘AC Milan for Peace’ program, helped raise nearly $200,000 (€200,000) by selling specially designed team jerseys which included the icon’s name and number on the back.

The first release sold out within a few days, prompting the club to produce more.

For Shevchenko, who is arguably Ukraine’s most famous athlete, sport is an important tool in uniting the nation.

He praised the efforts behind the relaunch of the Ukrainian Premier League in August and said the men’s national team offered the country hope in its ultimately unsuccessful bid to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar this year.

Despite beating Scotland in its first competitive match since the invasion, it lost to Wales in the playoff final.

“We just want to show the world that we are going to carry on, we’re going to keep going but that we can also live,” he said.

“The players are still national heroes for everyone because that’s such a difficult moment.”

He added: “We want to just show the world that we’re going to carry on and then we’re going to try to live a normal life.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

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