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Fall from Grace: Andriy Shevchenko

Nowadays it’s hard to think of Andriy Shevchenko as a deadly striker who terrorised defenders all over Europe after the Ukrainian’s career took a massive nosedive from 2006 onwards, but the Ukraine hitman was pretty prolific during spells with Dynamo Kiev and AC Milan. It’s a shame that our judgement of the man these days is clouded over by his disastrous spell at Chelsea but his failure to perform on our shores has led to Shevchenko being branded a failure by the English media.

It wasn’t always that way, Shevchenko had started his career at Dynamo Kiev after being spotted playing in a youth tournament and proved a massive hit with the Ukrainian giants, breaking into their first team at just 18 years of age and progressing with the club. By the time of his departure in 1999 Shevchenko had scored 94 goals in 166 appearances, one of the best records of a Ukrainian footballer ever.

At the age of 22 Shevchenko moved abroad to ply his trade at Italian giants AC Milan in a big money move and the risk of signing an untested Ukrainian quickly paid off for Milan as Shevchenko immediately settled into life in Italy, scoring 29 goals in his first season at the club. Shevchenko’s form continued and he proved prolific the next season as well, quickly establishing himself as a club favourite. His third year at the club brought a decent 17 goals and, though he disappointed in his fourth year, scoring just 10 goals, he was quickly back to form as he fired home over 20 goals in each of his three remaining seasons with the club.

In this time Shevchenko had come to be regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and gained plaudits from all over, winning the European Player of the Year award to go alongside the number of silverware he was claiming. Shevchenko eyed the record books as he became Milan’s second highest goalscorer of all time and climbed up the ladder of Champion’s League goalscorers to fly into the list of the top five scorers.

Shevchenko’s career at Milan was never going to last though; ever since Roman Abrahamovic had taken over Chelsea in 2003 and plied them with money there were rumours that Shevchenko would move to Chelsea due to his possessing a good friendship with Abrahamovic. Talk became reality in 2006 as Shevchenko moved to the London club in a £30 million move.

Signing Shevchenko a couple of years earlier would no doubt have caused hysterical delight around Stamford Bridge but Shevchenko’s arrival was not as pleasing as would be expected – Chelsea had splashed out a massive fee on a man who was nearing 30 and the rumours said that manager Jose Mourinho didn’t even want to sign him and it was all Abrahamovic’s doing. Plenty of fans were sceptical, believing that the move could easily go wrong. And it did.

Shevchenko started the season unsurprisingly as first choice striker and he managed to score on his debut in the Community Shield against Liverpool. Goalscoring form wasn’t to continue though and Shevchenko finished his first season in England with 14 goals from 51 appearances, not quite £30 million form. Unsurprisingly Mourinho wasn’t impressed with the man who he hadn’t wanted to sign and he began to use Shevchenko sparingly with many believing that the striker caused arguments between Mourinho and Abrahamovic. Mourinho’s lack of faith in Shevchenko showed in the Ukrainian’s second season at the club as Shevchenko made just 24 appearances, though he scored a decent 8 goals in those appearances. Things clearly couldn’t remain as they were, Shevchenko was being deemed a massive flop and Mourinho’s replacement Avram Grant didn’t seem too fond of him either.

In the summer of 2008 Shevchenko moved on loan to former club AC Milan in the hopes of getting first team football. You’d be forgiven for believing that a club legend would easily get into their club’s team, but it wasn’t to be for Shevchenko who found himself ignored for much of the season in favour of veteran Filippo Inzaghi and youngster Alexandre Pato. Shevchenko managed 26 appearances for Milan but most of them were from coming off the bench and he managed just two goals, really failing to impress.

Shevchenko returned to Chelsea following the unsuccessful loan stint but his continuation with the club seemed unlikely and in late August 2009 Shevchenko left the club to rejoin his first club Dynamo Kiev. So far Shevchenko has managed 5 goals in 19 appearances whilst back at Dynamo where he is a first choice once again.

Shevchenko’s goalscoring ability has always been with him – his international goal record is good and he looked capable of getting goals in his second season at Chelsea though Mourinho and Grant seemed unwilling to give him chances. His massive transfer fee and failing to continue the goalscoring form of his Milan days are what turned him into a flop though and Shevchenko is now looked on far less favourably than he had been in the footballing world, considered a shadow of his former self. Shevchenko still has goals in him but, now he’s 33, don’t expect to see him back in the limelight again as a football player. Shevchenko’s glory days are gone.

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Article title: Fall from Grace: Andriy Shevchenko

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