Andriy Shevchenko – how the mighty have fallen

Andriy Schevchenko has been a great player by anyone’s reckoning. Nearly 200 goals in just under 400 league appearances at Dinamo Kiev, Milan and Chelsea.

He was European footballer of the year in 2004 and has been in the top ten on five other occasions. Six times he has been in the top ten of FIFA World footballer of the year. On three occasions he has been the top scorer in the Champions League tournament. 36 goals in 79 International appearances for Ukraine is also an impressive record.

At 31 years old he should still be near the top of his game. So whilst his old teammates prepare to take on Arsenal at the San Siro and his current team look to progress against Olympiakos in the Champions League, where do we find Andriy?

Well the answer was hidden in the back pages of the sports papers this morning. Griffin Park, Brentford.

Schevchenko completed ninety minutes for Chelsea reserves last night at the ground of the League two London side. He made what the Chelsea website describes as a ‘low key performance’ as captain of the side going down 2-1 to Reading reserves.

The £30 million man was trying to prove his fitness following a back injury, but failed to shine with his abiliy or his attitude. Reserve team coach Brendan Rogers said: “It is difficult for senior players to come in and show a great attitude because of where they are normally playing at.”

When a 29 year-old Shevchenko signed for Chelsea prior to the 2006 World Cup it was heralded as a magnificent signing for the Blues. To prise him away from Milan, at what appeared to be the peak of his prowess was regarded as a masterstroke by many. A partnership of Drogba and Shevchenko would certainly be the dream team to take Chelsea to European glory.

Of course, it was never totally clear whether Jose Mourinho had wanted to sign him or whether the orders had come from above.

Schevchenko had famously missed good chances and the losing penalty against Liverpool in the Champions League Final in 2005, but had recovered in the following season to score all four goals in Milan’s 4-0 group-stage drubbing of Fenerbahçe, and to become Milan’s second highest goalscorer of all time.

His immediate future at Chelsea looked as though it couldn’t go wrong for him or the club.

Inexplicably Shevchenko finished his first season at Chelsea with fourteen goals, only four of which came in the Premier League. His season was cut short by injury, but even his greatest admirers would have to admit that even when fully fit, he was a shadow of the player Chelsea thought they had signed.

This season has again been interrupted by injury but he has failed to impress on the occasions he has made it on to the field of play. He has added four more league goals including two in the 4-4 draw with Aston Villa on December 26th.

Mainly due to injury he hasn’t appeared in the first team since then and is clearly becoming frustrated with the club, himself and the injuries. “My game was getting much better and then again, another injury. I understand this is life, but it’s important to be involved in the team. I try to help the team, and give my contribution.”

Rumours abound that the Ukranian striker will be moving on from Chelsea. The most likely destination is back to Milan, where Shevchenko would be happy to finish his career. Abramovich would be sorry to see his friend leave but even he will probably be prepared to cut his losses at the end of this season.

When he arrived in England I truly believed we would be adding him to the list of great overseas players to play in the Premier League, Bergkamp, Vierra, Van Nistleroy, Zola etc. It just hasn’t happened.

I don’t understand why this wonderful striker has not been a success in England and I’m sure he himself doesn’t understand how he came to be playing at Griffin Park.

What do Chelsea fans think? Do you have a soft spot for him? Do you think he’s been unlucky? Or is he just a £30 million flop?

Graham writes at Views of a fan

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