Robert Lewandowski vows to ‘wear Ukraine’s colors to the World Cup’ as Andriy Shevchenko hands the Poland captain a blue-and-yellow captain’s armband in a goal-scorer meeting
- Ukrainian football legend Shevchenko presented Poland captain Lewandowski with a captain’s armband in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag
- War-torn country failed to qualify for World Cup in Qatar this winter
- But Barcelona striker Lewandowski promised to represent them in the final
- The neighboring countries co-hosted the European Championship in 2012
- Poland took in thousands of Ukrainian refugees after Russia invaded in February
- Click here for all the latest 2022 World Cup news and updates
Robert Lewandowski has pledged to ‘wear Ukraine’s colors to the World Cup’ after an emotional encounter with legend Andriy Shevchenko.
The war-torn country failed to make it to the final in Qatar, losing to Wales in a play-off match, but Polish captain and Barcelona striker Lewandowski will ensure their neighbors and friends will be part of the tournament.
Shevchenko, the former striker who scored 48 goals in 111 appearances for Ukraine during an illustrious career, presented Lewandowski with a captain’s armband in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag at the Warsaw National Stadium.
Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko (left) handed Polish captain Robert Lewandowski a captain’s armband in his country’s colors so he can wear them symbolically to the World Cup
Lewandowski has been involved in relief efforts since Ukraine was invaded by Russia
Lewandowski, 34, said: “I believe that as athletes we should use the power of sport for good.
“I will take Andriy’s bracelet to the World Cup in November as a reminder that the Ukrainian people are not alone and will not be forgotten.
“It means a lot to me to be here with Andriy, a footballer and a man who has used his voice and platform to influence positive change.”
Lewandowski, a winner of the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award, has been supporting victims of the war in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February.
He lobbied for a postponement of Poland’s international match against Russia and wore an armband in Ukrainian colors when he captained his former club Bayern Munich.
Shevchenko played 111 times for Ukraine and was also national coach until 2021
The two goalscorers embrace during their meeting at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland
Shevchenko, who also led Ukraine’s national team between 2016 and 2021, said: “For me, the captaincy is a symbol of leadership, strength and passion for your country.
“I want to pass this bracelet on to Robert to thank him for his support, voice and platform to support my country and call for peace.”
He added: “When I was captain of Ukraine, the armband meant everything to me – whether I played my club football in Italy or England, it always connected me with Ukraine.
“Since the war started, I have once again been able to represent my country and have seen athletes around the world use their platform to support the victims of the invasion of Ukraine.
A Ukrainian unit drives tanks as they take back territory occupied by Russia earlier in the conflict
The conflict has wreaked havoc on Ukraine, killing thousands of civilians
Ukraine narrowly missed a place in the World Cup and lost in a play-off to Wales
“I would like to thank Robert Lewandowski for this act of solidarity and for all his work on behalf of my country – and I also thank the entire sports world for their response to this crisis.
“What I’ve seen is proof that sport has the power to change the world.
“There is a special relationship between Ukraine and Poland. I have visited refugee projects here through my work with Laureus Sport for Good and Robert Lewandowski’s compassion can be seen all over the country.”
Poland hosted the 2012 European Championship together with Ukraine. The country took in thousands of Ukrainian refugees who had to flee when Vladimir Putin’s armies entered the country on February 27.
Ukraine’s armed forces have reclaimed hundreds of square kilometers of occupied territory in recent weeks and liberated key cities and towns as the conflict stalls in their favor.