Donetsk is known in Ukraine as the miners' capital, with the Donbass region and neighbouring Luhansk the centre of the nation's coal industry. The local club, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, take their name from the city's main business (Shakhtar being Ukrainian for miner, hence their anglicised nickname the Pitmen), and as UEFA EURO 2012 kicked off, much of the talk in the Zasyadko pit is of the tournament to come. Andriy, who has worked in the colliery for six years, spoke to our city reporter.
UEFA.com: Has Donetsk changed in the run-up to the championship?
Andriy: Definitely – yes. We had already got the Donbass Arena – one of the best stadiums in Europe. Now we have new airport terminal, a new railway station, new hotels and good roads.
UEFA.com: Miners are being given the day off for matchdays in Donetsk. You must be pleased?
Andriy: This does not concern us (laughing). Our job has its own demands. We work on holidays, on days off and on working days. Shift work is shift work; the mine has to work constantly - it goes without saying.
UEFA.com: Are you and your colleagues going to any matches?
Andriy: Unfortunately, no, but I will be supporting the guys from the coalface. Especially, I’ll be behind the guys from Shakhtar Donetsk – they are my favourite team.
In the pit, we are all fans of Shakhtar and our national team, too. Donetsk is not only the miners' capital, but also the footballing capital of Ukraine. I play a bit, but not as often as I would like – occasionally all of us get together to play football.
UEFA.com: Is there any other team you will be getting behind at the finals?
Andriy: Russia. I know my relatives from Russia will be supporting their players, and I wish them good luck. But I want the Ukrainian national team to win the tournament!
UEFA.com: How do you rate Ukraine's chances?
Andriy: I think we'll definitely put up a fight to get through the group stage, but it will be a bit more difficult if we do reach the knockout phase. Then again, luck can come into it from then onwards; as the saying goes, 'the ball is round' [rough translation: it is the same for everybody, so football is unpredictable].
UEFA.com: Will playing at home help Ukraine?
Andriy: Of course! I'm sure they will have passionate support at the stadium. And even those people who cannot be in the stadium will support the team with their whole hearts. Our guys will have an extra player on the field – a 12th player!
UEFA.com: Have you a message for the foreign supporters who come to Donetsk?
Andriy: Welcome! Our city is very beautiful, they will love it. The only shame is that they will leave upset after getting beaten by our national team.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.