Sport Star Exhibit
By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
Name: Andriy Shevchenko
Date of birth: 29.09.1976
With over 100 goals to his name in less than five seasons in the notoriously ultra-defensive Italian championship, Andriy Shevchenko is the supreme goal-poacher and probably the most complete forward in world football. His great acceleration, quick feet and stunning eye for goal coupled with great instincts make him one of the most difficult players to play against.
Now his country's talisman, Shevchenko first appeared for Ukraine in March 1995 against Croatia, scoring his first goal in May 1996 against Turkey. Achieved his dream of qualifying for a major tournament when Ukraine won FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 2 to advance to Germany.
Shevchenko spent five seasons at FC Dynamo Kyiv, before joining Milan in 1999 for €26m. He had just scored eight goals to help Dynamo into the Champions League semi-finals. During the previous season he struck a first-half hat-trick at the Camp Nou in a sensational 4-0 win against FC Barcelona. He left the club having won five championships and two Ukrainian Cups.
It was no great surprise when 'Sheva' became the first foreigner to top the Serie A scoring charts in a debut season. He tormented Serie A defenders with another 24-goal haul in the 2000/01 season, and managed 14 goals in 29 league appearances in 2001/02. Shevchenko scored the winning penalty in the 2003 Champions League final victory against Juventus FC thus making good his promise to his mentor, Valery Lobanovsky (whom he calls his 'father') by becoming the first Ukrainian ever to win the Champions League.
He also scored the only goal in the UEFA Super Cup defeat of FC Porto in Monaco, and again top scored in Serie A with 24 goals prior to signing a new contract with the champions until 2009.
All this might not have been. Andriy's early years had not gone quite so smoothly, for at the age of nine, this lad from Dvirkivshchyna, not far from Tchernobyl, was one of thousands of local children forced to flee to the coast with their families to avoid the horrendous after-effects of the nuclear power plant disaster. On a sporting level too, the path to glory was fraught with major obstacles, as in the same year of 1986, he failed a trial for entry to a specialist sports school after making a hash of a dribbling test. But luckily for the young Sheva - and for the game of football -, Alexander Shpakov, a scout for Dynamo Kiev, spotted him playing in a youth tournament.
The rest as they say is history.
The sharpshooters all round ability is summed up by a simple statistic. Of his first hundred strikes in the Serie A, 36 goals came from his right foot, 17 from his left, 26 from headers, 2 from free kicks and 19 from the penalty spot, including 21 braces and 3 hat-tricks truly amazing.
Shevchenko is close friends with MassimoAmbrosini but unlike most team-mates he lives in the working class of downtown Milan, for he feels that it is there he truly belongs.
Did you Know?
· Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush gave Shevchenko, then just 14, a pair of his boots as a prize for his goalscoring prowess in a 1990 youth tournament.
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