Robert Lewandowski vows to ‘carry the colours of Ukraine to the World Cup’ as Andriy Shevchenko presents the Poland captain with a blue and yellow captain’s armband in meeting of goalscoring greats
- Ukrainian football legend Shevchenko presented Poland captain Lewandowski with a captain’s armband in the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine’s flag
- War-torn country didn’t qualify for the World Cup in Qatar this winter
- But Barcelona striker Lewandowski pledged to represent them at the finals
- The neighbouring countries co-hosted the European Championship in 2012
- Poland took in thousands of Ukrainian refugees after Russia invaded in February
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Robert Lewandowski has pledged to ‘carry the colours of Ukraine to the World Cup’ after an emotional meeting with legend Andriy Shevchenko.
The war-torn country didn’t make it to the finals in Qatar, losing to Wales in a play-off match, but Poland captain and Barcelona striker Lewandowski will ensure their neighbours and friends will be part of the tournament.
Shevchenko, the former striker who scored 48 goals in 111 matches for Ukraine during an illustrious career, presented Lewandowski with a captain’s armband in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag at Warsaw’s national stadium.
Ukraine legend Andriy Shevchenko (left) presented Poland captain Robert Lewandowski with a captain’s armband in his country’s colours so he can symbolically carry them to the World Cup
Lewandowski has been involved with relief efforts since Ukraine was invaded by Russia
Lewandowski, 34, said: ‘I believe that as athletes we should use the power of sport for good.
‘I’m going to take Andriy’s armband with me to the World Cup in November as a reminder that Ukrainian people are not alone and are not forgotten.
‘It means a lot to me to stand here with Andriy, a footballer and a man who has used his voice and platform to influence positive change.’
Lewandowski, a recipient of the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award, has supported victim of the Ukraine war ever since Russia invaded the country in late February.
He lobbied for the postponement of Poland’s international fixture against Russia and has worn an armband in Ukraine’s colours when he captained his former club Bayern Munich.
Shevchenko played 111 times for Ukraine and was also the national team manager until 2021
The two goalscoring greats embrace as they meet at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland
Shevchenko, who also managed the Ukraine national side between 2016 and 2021, said: ‘For me, the captain’s armband is a symbol of leadership, strength and passion for your country.
‘I want to pass this armband to Robert to thank him for his support, voice and platform in supporting my country and calling for peace.’
He added: ‘When I captained Ukraine, the armband meant everything to me – whether I was playing my club football in Italy or England, it always connected me to Ukraine.
‘Since the war began, I have once again been able to represent my country and I have seen athletes all over the world use their platform to support the victims of the invasion of Ukraine.
A Ukrainian unit ride tanks as they take back territory taken by Russia earlier in the conflict
The conflict has caused enormous devastation to Ukraine with thousands of civilians killed
Ukraine narrowly missed out on a place at the World Cup, losing to Wales in a play-off
‘I want to thank Robert Lewandowski for this act of solidarity and for all of his work on behalf of my country – and I also thank the entire sporting world for their response to this crisis.
‘What I have seen is proof that sport has the power to change the world.
‘There is a special relationship between Ukraine and Poland. I have visited refugee projects here through my work with Laureus Sport for Good and Robert Lewandowski’s compassion can be seen right across the country.’
Poland co-hosted the 2012 European Championship with Ukraine. The country took in thousands of Ukrainian refugees forced to flee when Vladimir Putin’s armies rolled into the country on February 27.
Ukraine’s forces have reclaimed hundreds of square miles of occupied territory and liberated key towns and cities in recent weeks as the conflict swings in their favour.