Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko returned to FC Dynamo Kyiv in August after a ten-year absence, during which he represented European powerhouses Chelsea FC and AC Milan. After a difficult spell in London, he is "enjoying football again" in Kyiv. Even at 33, Shevchenko's hunger to flourish on the international stage remains fierce, and he told uefa.com that playing "at home" at UEFA EURO 2012™ was his "new challenge".
uefa.com: How has the first part of the season been for you?
Andriy Shevchenko: I've returned in good physical condition and am enjoying football again. This is very important. I felt a shadow of myself because of the problems with my neck last season. The injury wasn't allowing me to work as I could and to play at my usual standard.
uefa.com: Is the situation different now?
Shevchenko: Since returning to Kyiv I have not missed a single match and, if I'm not mistaken, not even a single training session. The feel of the ball is with me again and regular match practice has helped to restore my agility. The only thing I would like to have is a bit more luck.
uefa.com: You moved from Dynamo to Milan ten years ago. What has changed at the club since then?
Shevchenko: Dynamo were already a European club at the end of the 1990s. Everything was very professional, like at Chelsea or Milan. Of course, the football culture in England or Italy is more developed and top footballers do not come to Ukraine at the moment. However, when I was thinking about coming back to Ukraine, I understood the standard of the team and that I could help improve it.
uefa.com: Are you happy with how you are playing?
Shevchenko: You have to ask our coach about that. Valeri Gazzaev demands a powerful and aggressive manner of play. He gives me instructions and I try to follow them on the field. I know sometimes I choose the wrong position but, in general, the situation is not bad. It was very difficult in the first matches; I felt my physical condition was not the best. But things improved eventually and I have had a second wind this autumn.
uefa.com: Still, you have not scored that often - just five goals in 19 matches.
Shevchenko: Soon after I moved to Milan, [former Dynamo and Ukraine coach Valeriy] Lobanovskiy told me: "Andriy, you've started to score more, but play worse." My club coach demanded I concentrate on attack, though I felt I could also track back, but as the player I had to listen and to do what the coach asked me. In Kyiv everything came full circle. I work for a team and goals, hopefully, will come because I enjoy the work I do.
uefa.com: Who are the best players in the Ukrainian Premier League?
Shevchenko: First of all, my team-mates. Fernandinho at FC Shakhtar Donetsk is bright, Jaja at FC Metalist Kharkiv. Serhiy Nazarenko and Ruslan Rotan are good at FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. I was surprised how 17-year-old Maksim Koval played for FC Metalurh Zaporizhya – he has made some good saves against us and Shakhtar. Everybody is talking about him now. That's how a big career starts but he has to keep working very hard.
uefa.com: You have won the Ballon d'Or, the UEFA Champions League and various trophies in Ukraine, Italy and England; having achieved so much, what keeps you motivated?
Shevchenko: I want to win every single match. I want to win even during training! That is my buzz. I am also keen to play in my home country at UEFA EURO 2012™, giving my maximum for Ukraine. After a disappointing 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign that is my new challenge, or even dream. I will do everything to achieve that.
uefa.com: Why were the national team eliminated by Greece in the FIFA World Cup play-offs?
Shevchenko: We fell just short of making the step to the next level. I think we should be patient and wait until a new generation of players is ready. Our Under-19 team won the European championship and we need to wait until they grow up. We have the right strategy and I'm sure the results will come.
uefa.com: Why were Dynamo not able to qualify for the UEFA Champions league first knockout round?
Shevchenko: We missed our chance in the matches against Internazionale Milano. We gave our best performance of the season in Italy but only got a 2-2 draw. Also, we collapsed after the break in Kyiv and conceded two last-minute goals. That turned out to be decisive. I can't explain what happened. We have a young team and just failed. But this also brought us experience, which is useful. Dynamo will be even more aggressive next autumn.
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