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At 35 Andriy Shevchenko is looking to bring the curtain down on his international career in style at UEFA EURO 2012, but Ukraine's talisman is feeling the benefit of his experience as he prepares for his last hurrah.
UEFA.com: What are your feelings now that the start of the tournament is so close?
Andriy Shevchenko: Firstly I'm very happy that the championship is about to begin and that the supporters all over the world and in Ukraine will be able to see it. The month before the EURO starts is always quite hard because it's a time for training and preparations and everyone is nervous. The closer you get to the game, the more nervous you become since there is no more time left for training. All you can do then is concentrate on the things you have learned and get yourself ready.
For me this is the most exciting time - the time of slight nervousness and concentration before the game.
UEFA.com: Do you worry that the pressure will get to some of the younger players?
Shevchenko: Of course we discuss this with the guys and give them advice where needed. It makes no sense to assess your chances; you need to believe in yourself and make sure you give everything you can. In football there are no favourites before the game. There are teams that are better prepared, that are ready mentally and physically – and these are the teams that win in the end.
UEFA.com: How does Oleh Blokhin differ from from other coaches you have worked with?
Shevchenko: The most obvious trait that sets Blokhin apart is his confidence and motivation. I think this comes from when he played himself. He was a great player who made footballing history in Europe and also in his own country. His confidence allows players to believe in themselves and in the team.
UEFA.com: You have been nursing a back injury: do you feel fit enough?
Shevchenko: I try not to think about my injuries. I will try to squeeze everything I can out of my body during this championship. I will give everything I have in me on the pitch.
UEFA.com: Where do you think Blokhin would like you to play?
Shevchenko: I will be happy to play in any position they want to use me in. Personally I am most comfortable playing as a forward or slightly deeper. I have always played in this position and it hasn't changed for me.
UEFA.com: There are lots of players in this Ukraine team who are over a decade younger than you. Is this a very talented young generation?
Shevchenko: Absolutely. There are good guys in the team with a lot of ability. This is a starting point in their careers. Championships at such a high level will allow them to gain a lot of positive experience notwithstanding the results. You can only develop professionally at such a level. The training that the guys had, the preparations they went through, the more responsibility and pressure they will feel – this will help them in the future. They will gain a lot of experience during this championship and after it ends they will be completely different players. I am sure the future of Ukrainian football is in good hands.
UEFA.com: UEFA EURO 2012 will be your last major championship. How does that make you feel?
Shevchenko: I am actually very calm and relaxed. My experience of 18 years as a professional helps me a lot here. I hope I will be ready physically and that there will be no problems. That is what worries me the most. I would very much like to perform at a high level at home with support of our fans and my friends and family so that I can leave a final mark with the national team.
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