Andriy Shevchenko says he is “so proud” of his war-torn home country Ukraine, which is fending off an invasion from Russia.
The former AC Milan, Chelsea and Dynamo Kyiv striker was speaking at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony on Monday night where he gave a powerful speech to the star-studded crowd inside the Theater du Chatelet.
With global stars and powerful football figures from around the world gathered in Paris on Monday night, the former Ukraine international footballer issued a reminder of the troubles his home country is facing.
He said: “It has been a very difficult moment since the war started.
“I am so proud with how my country defend and fight for their freedom.”
As well as his expressing his pride for his home nation, he also stressed the need for the country to be given support internationally.
“It is very important to remember the war is still going,” he continued. “But most important to stay behind Ukraine and help.”
Shevchenko gave his speech before presenting the Ballon d’Or Femenin award to Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas, who won the prestigious prize for the second year in a row.
Putellas was in scintillating form in the 2021-22 season. The Spain international, who is currently coming back from a long-term knee injury, scored 18 goals and backed that up with a league-high 18 assists as she helped Barca to the La Liga title.
Putellas was also voted the Champions League’s best player last season, despite Barca’s 3-1 defeat to Lyon in the final in Turin, Italy.
Arsenal and England striker Beth Mead, who won player of the tournament and the golden boot at Euro 2022 with the Lionesses, finished in second place.
Chelsea striker Sam Kerr, who scored 29 goals in 31 games in all competitions and helped lead the Blues to a third consecutive league title and second consecutive domestic double, came third.