No stranger to big occasions in a career in which he has amassed over 100 Ukraine caps, even Anatoliy Tymoshchuk feels the excitement of UEFA EURO 2012 "as player and fan".
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Even with more than 100 Ukraine caps and a UEFA Cup winners' medal to his name, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is getting swept up in the excitement of UEFA EURO 2012.
Tymoshchuk is an old hand on the international scene, having made his Ukraine debut back in 2000. The high point came in reaching the 2006 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, while his club career has had highlights aplenty too; 2008 UEFA Cup glory with FC Zenit St Petersburg perhaps topping the lot. Nothing, though, can compare to the anticipation surrounding this summer's final tournament in his homeland and Poland.
"The excitement is growing more and more, and I feel it as an ordinary person, as a fan," said the FC Bayern München midfielder. "In my conversations with friends and family, they say they also feel the same excitement in the air. Everyone is getting ready, tickets and stadiums. Everybody is trying to get to the EURO and to enjoy the atmosphere. I think as time goes on it will reach its peak. Therefore I expect huge support for every game, not just for our team, but any team playing in Ukraine."
Packed with exciting players, Ukraine have the perfect opportunity to showcase their talents in June, starting with their Group D assignments against Sweden, France and England. Tymoshchuk, 33, feels the added responsibility of being an experienced member of the squad and is determined his younger team-mates seize the chance to impress.
"I've spoken to many of them," the former FC Shakhtar Donetsk man said. "If they are young players, it's the opportunity of a lifetime. If they want to progress as players and achieve success, they must aspire to play for the best teams. Therefore everyone has a chance, and he can use it or not, and it will depend on the player. The stronger the opponent is, the more attention your team gets. That's why I think we have many promising players, and only they can do it. I hope each of them can prove himself and play well."