Andriy Shevchenko has called for an end to the war following Ukraine’s invasion by Russia as he appealed for donations to be sent to his homeland.
The former Ukraine striker and manager also revealed his mother and sister were in the capital Kyiv and had told him they wanted to stay.
The 45-year-old ex-Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan and Chelsea forward told Sky Sports: “I want to thank my nation, army, president Volodymyr Zelensky (for doing) everything possible to defend my country from Russian aggression. I’m so proud to be Ukrainian.
“It’s a very difficult moment for my country, for my people, for my family. My mum and my sister are in Kyiv at this moment and there are terrible things happening there.
“It’s people dying, children dying, missiles pointing in our houses, and we need to stop this war, we need to find a way to stop the war.
“I’m sure we’re going to fight (until the) last moment and this union between our population…we have a strong leader like our president, he’s doing a lot of great things, he’s united people.”
Asked if he had tried to persuade his mother and sister to leave, he said: “I tried many times. I talk. But the answer is no. They want to stay there. This is the Ukrainian spirit.”
Shevchenko said he wanted to “thank all the world who support Ukraine, Great Britain for incredible support, everyone who is supporting Ukraine in a very difficult moment in our nation”, before adding: “I want to make an appeal to the world, to Great Britain, to the people – please, I ask you to donate.
“We need medical (supplies), food, any support we can (get). Please help us, donate.”
Shevchenko also addressed Russian people directly in their own language, imploring them to protest against the war.
Meanwhile, the Premier League has announced a show of support for the people of Ukraine at all matches this weekend, with captains to wear special armbands in Ukrainian colors and fans encouraged to join players, managers, match officials and club staff in a moment of reflection and solidarity before kick-off.
The large screens at grounds will display “Football Stands Together” against a blue and yellow backdrop, matching the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and the words will also be shown on LED perimeter boards during games.
Everton have suspended commercial ties with Alisher Usmanov’s companies.
The Uzbekistan-born billionaire, who has had his assets frozen as part of sanctions imposed by the European Union in response to Russia’s attack, is founder of private Russian holding company USM, which has sponsored Everton’s training ground since 2017 and has had an option on naming rights for the Toffees’ new stadium.
MegaFon is among USM’s businesses and Everton’s women’s team signed a multi-year principal partnership deal with the telecommunications operator in October 2020, when Yota – part of the MegaFon Group – was added to the sleeve.
Branding is set to be removed from Goodison Park and the Finch Farm training base after Everton confirmed the immediate suspension of agreements with the three companies.
Everton’s Ukraine defender Vitalii Mykolenko, who joined from Dynamo Kyiv in January, hit out at Russia captain Artem Dzyuba and his international team-mates on Tuesday for their silence over the invasion.
In a post on Instagram in his native language, Mykolenko said: “While you remain silent b**** along with your s***head football team-mates, peaceful civilians are being killed in Ukraine.
“You will be locked in your dungeon for the rest of your life and most importantly the lives of your kids. And I’m glad.”
Mykolenko’s post came the day after FIFA and UEFA suspended Russia from all competitions.
FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani was asked on Wednesday at the FT Business of Football summit in London what needed to happen for the ban on Russia to end.
And Montagliani, CONCACAF president, said: “The first thing that has to happen before we entertain what happens next, is that the war needs to stop.
“Beyond that, geopolitical solutions, we will walk in step with the world from there. At the moment our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. At the moment, the war has to stop.”
Ukraine international Yaroslav Rakitskiy has been granted an early end to his contract with Zenit St Petersburg – the club reportedly supported by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Rakitskiy had not featured for the club since Russia’s invasion and had asked to be released.