Name: Yaroslav Rakitskiy
Club: FC Shakhtar Donetsk
Debut: 15/08/09 v FC Dnister Ovidiopol (Ukrainian Cup)
Date of birth: 03/08/89
The departure of Dmytro Chygrynskiy to FC Barcelona in August 2009 opened a door for Yaroslav Rakitskiy to the Shakhtar first team and he took his chance in emphatic style. Though initially a left-back, he quickly adapted to the demands of central defence and within two months of making his debut had won his first international cap for Ukraine in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against England.
Born in the small town of Pershotravnevsk on the border of the Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions, Rakitskiy joined Shakhtar's youth academy aged 13. By the time Chygrynskiy had joined Barcelona, he had already established himself as a key component of Ukraine's Under-21 squad which has since gone on to qualify for the 2011 UEFA European U21 Championship finals in Denmark.
Rakitskiy's versatility is one of his greatest strengths. Originally a left-winger, he converted to full-back then central defence and has even been used in central midfield, where his pace, good passing ability and powerful left-foot shot are prominent. Physically strong, with good positional sense, he can start an attack from the back with one sweeping pass out of defence.
Club Brugge KV 1-4 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
17/09/09 (UEFA Europa League)
Nine days before this match Rakitskiy had impressed in a 2-2 draw for Ukraine's U21 side against France while playing in central midfield. Volodymyr Chesnakov scored twice for Ukraine off rebounds after France keeper Johnny Placide could only parry Rakitskiy's ferocious long-range free-kicks. In Brugge he played as centre-back and did not put a foot wrong, cementing his Shakhtar place. A call up to the national team was not long in coming.
"It doesn't matter to me which position I play. The only important thing is to be useful for my team."
I like English football because it's so action packed, but I only dream about playing for Shakhtar."
"It makes no difference to him if he is playing against Barcelona at the Camp Nou or at home to Metalurh Donetsk. He is clearly talented, there's room for growth, he's young and has all the qualities to develop into a great player. I believe in him and his future."
Darijo Srna, Shakhtar captain
"Rakitskiy has a character of steel. He is very young, but it seems no one can scare him on the pitch. He respects his opponents but is never afraid of them. He will be a great defender and footballer and I can only congratulate Shakhtar on having a player like that in their squad."
Viktor Leonenko, three-time Ukrainian player of the year
"Rakitskiy was recommended to me as a left-back, but when I saw him in action I knew he could be a great central defender.
When Barcelona wanted to buy Dmytro Chygrynskiy I told the president Rinat Akhmetov he can let him go as we have a very talented player for this position."
Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar coach
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