Posted: 6/12/2012


        For the few of you who don't recognise it, that is the name of the Ukrainian National Anthem, UKRAINE HAS NOT YET PERISHED, Of course they use cyrilic script like neighbours Russia.

       Wasn't it great to see the enthusiasm of all the fans in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev as the team and bench sang before the clash with Sweden? It was not always that way!  The song was written way back in 1864, but between 1920 and FREEDOM in 1992 it was banned by their Soviet masters.  The Olympic Stadium was named for the fact that Kiev hosted 1980 Moscow Olympics football tournament when it was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was originally called Republic Stadium, and I took a photo of the old sign, while the stadium was torn down for the new one. Kiev Central, V.I. Lenin Stadium and Nikita Kruschev Stadium were other name changes depending upon the political climate.

       Well SHEVA was the hero last night in the arena where the EURO 2012 Final will be held on July 1. What a performance from the 'old man', 35 years old. A legend at Dinamo Kiev, AC Milan and not so much at Chelsea, ANDRIY SCHEVCHENKO brought the fans, and the fan zone in Independence Square to boiling point.

       The stadium was a sea of yellow and gold with visiting Sweden and their fans sporting the same colours. With Zlatan Ibrahimovitch the SVERIGE captain opening the scoring, it looked grim until SHEVA scored his brace of goals and with the three points took his nation to the top of the table. Now 49 goals for his country, 374 all told, I think, and with 58 in Champions League matches he is in 3rd place in that table.  His 14 goals in the AC Milan v Inter derbies is also a record.

      Incidentally, his American wife and he speak Italian at home and after his return to Ukraine he wants to teach his young children his native language. His family moved from the Chernobyl area, 140km to the north, after the nuclear disaster when he was very young.

      Yesterday I mentioned the imprisonment of the former Ukrainian President in a 7th floor hospital room with bars in Kharkiv. Yulia Tymoshenka was in fact the Prime Minister and supporters are hoping that the publicity in the world's press and their scuffles and protests with police would get massive coverage.

      I had a wonderful all day sightseeing trip to Kiev 3 years ago after an overnight sleeper train journey from Kharkiv to the modernized central station. There my local friends Eugenie and son Sergie(wearing his Man Utd jersey) took me all over in this handsome capital of 2,500,000 residents with its long, wide boulevards, statue encrusted squares, massive fountains, churches and parks with chestnut trees.

        A wonderful view over the river at the gigantic Motherland statue and lunch in a two floor restaurant where I was treated to chicken kiev, beetroot borsch and a local cherry turnover and cream, washed down with apple juice. It's name is Domashnya Kukhnya (Home Cooking) on Bohdan Khymelnytskoho Square. One of my best meals EVER !!