But the veteran player’s stock can rarely have been higher in his homeland than it is this morning after he scored two goals to earn Ukraine victory over Sweden in their opening match of Euro 2012, a tournament they are co-hosting.
The 35-year-old is now in the twilight of an illustrious career, but Shevchenko’s success can be traced back to a stove. That’s according to Andriy’s uncle Volodymyr.
He recalls that the young Andriy was running with a football at his feet before he could even walk properly.
He said: “We once sat down and tried to remember who had first brought a ball to the house and given it to Andriy. It seems to me that he began to kick a ball even before he was walking.”
On one visit to his brother’s home, Volodymyr found his two-year-old nephew with a bandage around his head.
Andriy had chased his ball into the kitchen and fallen into the stove door.
Volodymyr took that to be a sign from a higher power that the toddler should be allowed to continue his football development outdoors.
He told The Guardian: “Maybe that was a sign from heaven. After that I only ever saw him with a ball. He would be out in the yard the whole time thrashing a ball against the wall of the drying house.”
Shevchenko began training in more suitable surrounding and the rest is history.
Photo credit: Cruccone