Andriy Shevchenko: The Legacy of Sheva


Every once in a while, a player comes to Milan and etches his memory on our hearts, as well as the scoring records. For many who saw him play, Andriy Shevchenko was one of those players. His second chance at Milan left so much to be desired, yet he was such an incredible player, that not even his second chance was not enough to mar his memory. His legacy extends well beyond goals and stats and trophies, he is Milan nel cuore.

To Milan fans, he will always be just "Sheva"

For Milan fans, Sheva’s legacy began with what was at the time a record transfer fee of €24 million to Milan from Dynamo Kyiv. He was the kind of player that fans instantly fell in love with. He was dynamic, explosive, and lethal. In fact, his 24 goals in 32 league matches won him capocannoniere (top scorer) that first season. He was also named Foreign Footballer of the Year for 1999-2000, and placed third for the Ballon d’Or title, as well.

His second season with Milan saw him also score 24 goals in 34 league matches, including a brace in the legendary 0-6 away Derby at the end of the season.  Additionally, he scored nine goals in 14 Champions League appearances, even though Milan failed to progress past the Second Group Stage, with a disappointing draw to Deportivo La Coruna. He scored an incredible 34 goals total in 51 appearances in all competitions.

Assassin

His third season saw him only score five goals in Serie A in 24 appearances, largely due to injuries. He also helped to defeat Roma in the two-legged Coppa Italia final, which was sandwiched around the Champions League Final. It was his four goals in 11 Champions League matches which made him a legend in Milan fans’ memories. In the Champions League semifinal against Inter, he scored the away goal, which put Milan into the final at the expense of our city rivals.

Then, in the final, against rivals Juventus, the score was 0-0 at the end of extra time, despite a Shevchenko goal that was called back for offside, so it went to penalties. Dida had made three saves, Buffon two, and with two successful penalties each, Sheva stepped up to the spot. With the focus of an assassin, he took the penalty, beat Buffon, and won Milan’s sixth Champions League trophy for us.

Legendary

He was also the first Ukrainian player to ever win the Champions League. As a testament to his character, after the win, he flew to Kiev and placed his medal at the grave of his former Dinamo Kyiv coach, Valeriy Lobanovskiy, who had passed away the year before.

His legacy was not complete, however, with merely the epic goals, the trophy win, or the act of gratitude and class he displayed. In August, Milan played the UEFA Super Cup match against Porto, and Shevchenko scored the winning goal as Milan took home another trophy. He was also named UEFA Super Cup Man of the Match.

Immortal

Sheva would go on to win the capocannoniere title in Serie A again in the 2003-04 season, again with 24 goals in 32 matches. That season, his goals helped win Milan’s 17th Scudetto. He also scored a hat trick against Lazio in the Supercoppa final at the end of the season, to help Milan lift their third trophy of the season. He was named 2004 European Player of the year, and Pelé named him to his FIFA 100 that year as well. 2004 also marked Shevchenko’s fifth of six wins as Ukrainian Footballer of the Year. His biggest individual achievement of his career came that year, as well, as he won the Ballon d’Or trophy for best footballer of the year.

Unbelievable

His 2004-05 season for Milan saw him score a mere 17 league goals in 29 matches, again, in part, due to injury. He would score 26 goals in all competitions in 40 matches. He also made history by scoring four goals in one Champions League match, away to Fenerbahce. A handful of players have managed to score as many, but he is the only one to score them in an away match. He also had a less than ideal memory in the Champions League final that year. After Milan were up three goals at the half vs. Liverpool, they recklessly conceded three goals. The game went to penalties, and Sheva was a cold-blooded penalty taker. However, the heartbreak in Istanbul was complete when Shevchenko had his penalty saved by Dudek and Milan lost.

The 2005-06 season saw Shevchenko score 19 goals in 28 games in Serie A. This put him in second place in Milan’s all-time scorers, behind Gunnar Nordahl. He was also Champions League Top Scorer that season, with nine goals in 12 appearances. He scored a last-minute equalizer in the semi-finals against Barcelona, but it was controversially called off. Barcelona went on to win that Champions League.

Heartbreak in Istanbul

As one of the earlier “money moves” that broke the hearts of the Milan faithful, Shevchenko declined a six-year contract renewal offer from Milan and went to Chelsea for a then-record €44 million transfer fee. That didn’t go as well for him there, so Galliani brought him back to Milan on loan for the 2008-09 season, albeit too late to enjoy Milan’s revenge win against Liverpool in the Champions League in Athens.

One of the fan favorite players who learned the hard way that once you’ve left Milan, you can’t come back, he finished the season with zero goals in the league, and two goals in 26 total appearances for Milan, including only nine starts. It is difficult to tell who that hurt more, Sheva or the fans.

Inspirational

He finished his two spells at Milan with 175 goals in 322 appearances in all competitions. That included 127 Serie A goals in 226 appearances, which remains the second-highest goal tally in Milan history. He holds other Italian and Milan records, as well, including the top scorer of the Derby Della Madonnina and Milan’s top Champions League scorer. He won five trophies with Milan, but his individual accolades during his Milan career are too many to even list. Here are a few of the more prominent ones:

Ballon d'Or: Winner in 2004 and Third place in 1999 and 2000
Ukrainian Footballer of the Year: 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005
UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1998–99 and 2005–06
UEFA Team of the Year: 2004 and 2005
Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year: 2000
Serie A Top Scorer: 1999–00 and 2003–04
Golden Foot Award: 2005
FIFPro World XI: 2005
A.C. Milan Hall of Fame

Always in our hearts

In addition to the FIFA 100, he has made several prestigious Top 100 players of all time lists. He retired from football in 2012 after playing for Ukraine in the Euros, and he remains their most-capped player as well as their top all-time scorer. After a brief spell in politics in the Ukraine, he currently coaches their National Team, with some guy called Mauro Tassotti as an assistant. He is married and has four beautiful children, and Silvio Berlusconi remains the godfather of his oldest son, more reminders of how important Milan is to him.

However, no amount of words could describe how much he means to Milan fans still this day. He has admitted he might like to come back to manage Milan someday, and he remains close friends with Maldini and some of his other former teammates. But whether or not he has a future at the club, fans will never forget his intoxicating style of play, his annihilating goals, and his exuberant celebrations. No one will ever forget the legacy of Sheva.


This post inspired by the music of Muse’s “Assassin”

Andriy Shevchenko: The Legacy of Sheva Andriy Shevchenko: The Legacy of Sheva Reviewed by Elaine on 4:34 AM Rating: 5
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