Robert Lewandowski: Barcelona and Poland star to put on Ukrainian armband at World Cup

Throughout an occasion on the Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw on Tuesday, the 2 famed strikers embraced as Shevchenko mounted the blue and yellow armband to Lewandowski’s arm.

“I’m very proud because I know what it means to support Ukraine’s people,” Lewandowski mentioned.

“I know what it means to fight for freedom, we know the history, our history and that’s why it was clear to help our neighbors, to help the people from Ukraine and I’m very proud to wear this armband and to be on this side. I’m very glad and very grateful for everything.”

As neighboring international locations, there are robust ties and a shared historical past between Ukraine and Poland, which has accepted greater than 1,000,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion since February, in accordance with the UNHCR.

Lewandowski has lengthy been amongst Ukraine’s supporters, calling for Poland to boycott its World Cup qualifying match in opposition to Russia simply days after the warfare started.

When he performed for Bayern Munich, the Polish captain wore a Ukrainian armband whereas his teammates wore black armbands to commemorate these killed within the warfare.

“First of all, I want to thank Robert for everything he’s been doing for my country,” Shevchenko mentioned. “And I give this armband to him: this armband represents pride, power, some attachment to Ukraine.”

Soccer has assumed added significance in Ukraine in current months.

The Ukrainian Premier League restarted final month for the primary time since Russia’s invasion in February underneath the shadow of air raid sirens — one match held in Lviv was halted 4 instances permitting gamers to shelter in a bunker — whereas the Ukrainian nationwide group was thanked by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for “two hours of happiness” after defeating Scotland to succeed in the playoff last of World Cup qualifying.

“I think to be athletes, we have a very strong voice to tell the truth to the people, to keep awareness about what’s going on in Ukraine and tell the truth about (it),” Shevchenko added.

'Please don't forget about us,' says Ukrainian soccer legend Andriy Shevchenko about ongoing war effort
Alongside tennis star Elina Svitolina, Shevchenko has acted as an envoy of UNITED24, a corporation arrange by Zelensky to direct virtually $186 million of donations to the warfare effort.

“I know that when I wear for the first time this armband,” Lewandowski mentioned, “if some people heard about what I did, for me, it will also be an amazing feeling, amazing time because I know that sport — also people watch, for example, football and different sport as well — and if they know what is going on, it’ll be easier to understand the situation.”

Lewandowski will subsequent take to the sector with Poland on Thursday evening in a Nations League match in opposition to The Netherlands.