In the first of our new series taking a closer look at that elite group of players to have made 100 or more UEFA Champions League appearances, we point the spotlight at former Dynamo Kyiv, Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko.
Dynamo Kyiv: 26 (1994–99, 2009–12)
Milan: 59 (1999–2006)
Chelsea: 15 (2006–09)
Dynamo Kyiv: 15
Best performance: winner (Milan, 2003)
If you don’t remember him …
Samuel Beckett wrote that “perfection is not of this world,” although at Milanello they would beg to differ; many at AC Milan believe Shevchenko was the ideal of a modern centre-forward. Former club doctor Jean-Pierre Meersseman said: “Power, pace, acceleration and mental strength; he is perfect in every test – he is phenomenal.”
Technically gifted and a razor-sharp finisher off either foot, the Ukrainian was – particularly in his Milan heyday – one of the most-feared strikers European football has known. “Shevchenko has a great deal of consistency and just keeps scoring,” said former coach Carlo Ancelotti. “He’s a complete player, someone who can do everything on a football pitch.”
How he made it to 100 appearances
After coming through the club’s academy, Shevchenko made his Dynamo Kyiv debut in 1994 at 18, quickly becoming a key figure in Valeriy Lobanovskiy‘s memorable team. The striker joined AC Milan in 1999 and scored the winning penalty against Juventus in the 2003 UEFA Champions League final before winning Serie A the following season. A Ballon d’Or winner in 2004, ‘Sheva’ pitched up at Chelsea in 2006, but rejoined Dynamo Kyiv after three up-and-down seasons, ending his career where it had all begun in 2012.
His best moments
Scored both goals in a 2-0 second-leg victory on home turf as Dynamo Kyiv knocked out reigning champions Real Madrid in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, the Ukrainian side reaching the last four for only the third time in their history.
Shevchenko’s eyes – a picture of steely determination – before scoring the winning penalty past Gianluigi Buffon in the 2003 UEFA Champions League final are among the most iconic images from the Rossoneri’s glorious continental history.
With 14 goals, Shevchenko is the top scorer in the Derby della Madonnina. One strike in particular, however, will never be forgotten by Milan fans: in the 2003 UEFA Champions League semi-finals against city rivals Internazionale, Shevchenko received the ball inside the area, dribbled past Iván Córdoba with his first touch and expertly finished past beyond Francesco Toldo with his second.
What others said about him
“Sheva was the best partner I had in my whole career. Playing with him was my best period in football. He was very talented, but more importantly he understood that talent alone was not enough, and that you had to be very determined to do well.”
Serhiy Rebrov, former Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine team-mate
“The week after he arrived, we were all coming back to the changing room after a long running session. He didn’t speak Italian well, but he asked me when the real training session was due to start. I thought he was joking, but after taking a shower I realised he wasn’t because he was still out on the pitch running on his own.”
Alessandro Costacurta, former AC Milan team-mate
“When he arrived, we knew straight away that he was a real champion. The club made a serious investment to get him, but he scored lots of goals and proved to be one of Milan’s best signings ever.”
Paolo Maldini, former AC Milan team-mate