Oleksandr Zinchenko believes that the Game4Ukraine sent “a powerful message around the world” as he aimed to help raise money for the rebuilding of schools in his homeland.
The star-studded charity match featuring footballing legends and celebrities produced plenty of entertainment on and off the field, as Team Zinchenko drew 2-2 with Team Shevchenko at Stamford Bridge, with the 32,000 spectators in west London and on TV treated to a host of musical performances too.
Ahead of kick-off, the teams lined up for the national anthems of Ukraine and Great Britain before a video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was played where he thanked everyone for their involvement and for donating to the cause. A sombre minute’s silence was held in memory of those lost during the conflict, before the action got underway.
There was a strong Arsenal influence on the pitch, with Arsene Wenger managing Alex’s side who took the lead when Gilberto Silva set up Mark Noble for the opening goal, which was then cancelled out by a superb strike from Clarence Seedorf.
Our under-18s boss Jack Wilshere shone for Team Zinchenko and would pick up their man of the match award, aided by him teeing up Darijo Srna to make it 2-1 in the second half, but William Gallas would again draw Team Shevchenko level to fittingly allow both teams to share the trophy.
Two former Gunners goalkeepers in Jens Lehmann and Petr Cech were also in superb form as they denied both captains during the early exchanges, while our academy manager Per Mertesacker also participated at the heart of defence for Alex’s team, with our current left-back playing the first 11 minutes of the game before being replaced by Robert Pires.
However the most important takeaway from the event was the huge sums raised to help rebuild educational facilities in Ukrainian, as well as provide momentary relief for Alex's compatriots and show that the world stands by them. That is something Alex spoke passionately about post-match.
“It’s so difficult to describe my emotions to be honest,” he said. “First of all, I’m so proud that I’m a small part of this amazing event and once again I’m so proud to be Ukrainian.
“This is a powerful message to the rest of the world that we stick together. All these international big names are here and they stay with us.”