He may be "a little nervous" but Dmytro Chygrynskiy is confident that ten months after Anatoliy Tymoshchuk toured with the UEFA Cup trophy, FC Shakhtar Donetsk will ensure it remains in Ukraine on a permanent basis.
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He may admit to feeling "a little nervous" but FC Shakhtar Donetsk's defensive cornerstone Dmytro Chygrynskiy is confident that ten months after Anatoliy Tymoshchuk brought the UEFA Cup trophy to his homeland following victory with FC Zenit St. Petersburg, Mircea Lucescu's side will ensure it remains in eastern Ukraine on a more permanent basis.
"I'm doing this from my heart," said Tymoshchuk as he explained his decision to tour Ukraine last July with a particularly hefty piece of silverware. "Perhaps many boys, who either dream of a career as a footballer or are just starting out, will have a look at a real European Cup and start working harder." He could scarcely have imagined his trip would have such immediate affect as within a year Shakhtar, the club Tymoshchuk spent over a decade with before switching to Russia in 2007, are preparing to take on Werder Bremen for the right to become Ukraine's first victors in Europe since their 1991 independence.
Chygrynskiy missed Tymoshchuk's visit to Kiev, Donetsk and the midfielder's hometown of Lutsk, but Zenit's success against Rangers FC in Manchester did not escape him. "I was like: 'Wow, Zenit have won the UEFA Cup!'" said the 22-year-old. "It seemed incredible that a team, like CSKA Moskva three years earlier, from the former CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States], had won the UEFA Cup. It seemed – if not absolutely incredible – then amazing, a huge, huge achievement. And this year it could be us. This year we have put in a lot of hard work and worked on the details too, so everything else has followed that.
"We have been working slowly and steadily towards this success," continued the Ukrainian international. "Lucescu has been building this team for almost five years and we have been gaining experience season by season. Sometimes success was not on our side, but we have grown in confidence and while we are still quite young age-wise, our maturity has helped us avoid a few mistakes this season." That, of course, has brought the Pitmen to Wednesday's UEFA Cup showpiece and, though FC Dynamo Kyiv twice won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the 1975 UEFA Super Cup, within 90 minutes of claiming Ukraine's first European silverware as an independent nation.
Though one of only two members of Shakhtar's squad with experience of playing a European final – he and Andriy Pyatov were in the starting lineup as Ukraine lost 3-0 to the Netherlands in the 2006 European Under-21 Championship decider – Chygrynskiy admits to a few nerves: "The pressure will be greater than usual: the expectations of the supporters, the increased attention from the media. But everything disappears once you come out on the pitch and hear the referee's whistle." From then it is up to them – 90 minutes separate Chygrynskiy et al from their own trophy tour.