"It is a beautiful page in my career at Milan," the 2004 European Footballer of the Year said after his wonder show in Istanbul took Milan top of Group E with one Matchday remaining. "It's the first time I have scored four goals in one game for Milan and I dedicate the goals to my family and friends."
Shevchenko is certainly not new to scoring feats in the UEFA Champions League. During the 1997/98 season, while still with FC Dynamo Kyiv, he struck a first-half hat-trick at Camp Nou in a sensational 4-0 group-stage win against FC Barcelona.
"I cannot be happier than this," the Ukrainian international added after yet another career high. "
We played a great game and I have to thank my team-mates for my goals. We were extremely sharp especially when the Turkish side left us more space in the second half."
It was in Istanbul that Shevchenko's penalty miss decided last May's UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool FC. However, the striker has only sweet memories of the Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium. Almost a year ago, he registered twice in Ukraine's 3-0 victory against Turkey, a result which helped his national team reach the FIFA World Cup for the first time. "It's my lucky stadium," he admitted.
Shevchenko had not scored since 16 October because of a heel injury which forced him to miss several games. Indeed, he has still not fully recovered. "I was twice close to leaving the pitch because my heel was hurting but when you play a game like this, you always find the necessary strength to go on," he said.
The 29-year-old is not the first Rossoneri player to hit four goals in one match. José Altafini scored five in an 8-0 success against US Luxembourg in the 1962/63 European Champion Clubs' Cup preliminary round. More recently, on 25 November 1992, Marco van Basten netted four times against IFK Göteborg in a 4-0 San Siro triumph.
"I am very happy to have emulated a great player in the history of Milan like Van Basten," Shevchenko said. "However, I would prefer to score one decisive goal in four different games to four in just one." FC Schalke 04, visitors to Milan for the Group E conclusion on 6 December, have been warned.
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