Known as “Sheva,” the 35-year old announced his retirement on June 19 after Ukraine lost against England and dropped out of Euro 2012. He’d played a 20-minute cameo role on an injured knee and was unable to influence the game.
His two goals against Sweden in the first game on June 11 were reminiscent of his best years – and gave the nation joy and hope. When he took to the pitch on June 19, tens of thousands of Ukrainians in the fan zone on Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk street erupted in a chant of “Sheva! Sheva!”
Shevchenko is someone Ukrainians could and should be proud of. Playing in Europe for Italian giant AC Milan and winning the Golden Ball as Europe’s best player in 2004, he was Ukraine’s most successful export to Europe, a counterweight to the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, prostitutes and flashy oligarchs the country is perhaps best-known for in the West.