Oleksandr Zinchenko and a host of Arsenal legends will be involved in the Game4Ukraine charity match on Saturday, August 5 in aid of the people of Ukraine.
The event at Stamford Bridge will see Alex captain Team Zinchenko as they face Team Shevchenko, headlined by legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko. The event aims to raise money to help rebuild the Mykhailo-Kotsiubynsky Lyceum after the school was destroyed by missiles.
Since the invasion last year, more than 2,700 educational institutions have been badly damaged, including more than 1,200 schools - 200 of which have been completely destroyed. This has left 1.5 million Ukrainian children studying remotely.
To help with the fundraising efforts, the footballing community - as well as recognisable names from sport and entertainment - are uniting in west London, and there is plenty of Arsenal stardust in Alex’s squad.
Our left-back will be involved in a non-playing capacity, skippering a team managed by Arsene Wenger that includes Invincibles Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Jens Lehmann, Robert Pires and Gael Clichy, plus former heroes Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, Oleh Luzhnyi, Mikael Silvestre and Jack Wilshere.
Plus, two members of our 2007 UEFA Women’s Cup triumph will pull on their boots again, with Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey members of Zinchenko’s squad. Alongside them are several other heroes past and present, including Gerard Pique, David James and Mark Noble.
Team Shevchenko will be managed by Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes, and she’ll have Gianfranco Zola, Fabio Cannavaro and Clarence Seedorf to select from, as well as a large ex-Chelsea contingent including Claude Makelele, Samuel Eto’o and Michael Essien - plus former Gunners in Petr Cech and William Gallas.
In total, there will be over 50 legendary players in action, boasting seven World Cups and 27 Champions League titles between them, sharing the field with a host of celebrities from the worlds of music, film and lifestyle, such as Gooner Roman Kemp, Tom Grennan, Russell Howard, Chelcee Grimes and James Arthur.
Acts including Grennan, Melanie C, Pete Doherty, Tom Walker and The Pretenders will be performing pre and post-match and during an extended half-time show to complete the star-studded event.
It is hoped the action on the pitch will provide hope for the children of Ukraine, where Alex and Shevchenko flew to during the off-season to meet President Zelenskyy.
The two captains also visited the Mykhailo-Kotsiubynsky Lyceum - the first school site that will benefit from funds raised by the event. It is situated in Chernihiv Oblast; an area occupied by Russian troops for 33 days, and 90 per cent of the building was damaged by missiles.
Reflecting on that experience, Alex admitted: “It is completely different when you see it with your own eyes than watching it on your phone or social media. It is so scary to be honest because you realise that the younger generation is going to grow up with all of this.
“Apart from raising funds and the powerful message it sends to the world that we are sticking together, it is also an event where we can move a bit away from the war and watch an amazing game with amazing legends and current players.
“I have received a lot of love and help, and I’ve seen with my eyes that we are not alone. Kids have come up to me and said they’re praying for our country and that they hope it will finish very soon. Hearing that from kids shows once again that here, people stay with you.”
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