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Oleh Luzhnyi

Ukraine invasion: Former Arsenal defender Oleh Luzhnyi puts coaching career on hold to stay and fight for his homeland

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Former Premier League footballer Oleh Luzhnyi says he will put his coaching career on hold to stay and fight for Ukraine.

Luzhnyi is one of Ukraine’s most decorated football players, being part of Arsenal’s double-winning season in 2002, lifting the Premier League and FA Cup.

Instead, he spent Saturday travelling between his home and one of the city’s many makeshift air-raid shelters.

 

Football - FA Barclaycard Premiership , Arsenal v Everton , 11/5/02 .Arsenal's Oleg Luzhny lifts the FA Barclaycard Premiership Trophy .Mandatory Credit:Action Images / John Sibley .Digital

Luzhnyi won both the Premier League and the FA Cup with Arsenal. Pic: Action Images/John Sibley Digital

As recently as a week ago, Lviv was supposedly the safe place for domestic refugees fleeing the more vulnerable capital, Kyiv.

The American embassy was established in the city, and it was regarded as a safe space, even with the imminent threat of a Russian invasion.

But over the last couple of days, the air raid sirens have become more frequent and the US embassy has now moved its operations to Poland.

“The situation is horrific,” Luzhnyi tells Sky Sports via a WhatsApp message. “I want to come to coach in the UK but before anything I will stand firmly and fight for my people, for my country and for democracy.”

Football - Manchester United v Dynamo Kiev - UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday Four Group F - Old Trafford - Manchester - England - 07/08 , 7/11/07 Oleg Luzhny - Dynamo Kiev Coach Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Michael Regan
Luzhnyi will put his coaching career on hold to stay and fight for Ukraine. Pic: Action Images/Michael Regan

Before joining Arsenal in 1999, Luzhnyi won eight league titles with Dynamo Kyiv in the Soviet Union and latterly – after the declaration of independence in 1991 – Ukraine

Luzhnyi made 60 international appearances, captaining Ukraine 37 times. But his debut came for the USSR, aged 20.

“We all hope this will be over soon as innocent lives are being lost and families are being torn apart,” he said.

“A country being invaded and destroyed is all for what? We need to stand together as one and bring to an end this criminal warfare.”


About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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