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Tearful Shevchenko pleads with Italy to ‘open hearts’ to Ukraine

Milan (AFP) – Andriy Shevchenko asked Italy to open its hearts to his Ukraine homeland in an emotional interview broadcast Sunday night on one of the country’s biggest current affairs TV programmes.

Speaking to ‘Che Tempo Che Fa’ on Italian public broadcaster RAI, Shevchenko held back the tears as he described the situation faced by his family near Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv.

“My mum, my sister and other relatives of mine are still in Ukraine, I speak to them every day. It was their choice to stay,” he said.

“I can’t look at what’s happening to my country without crying. They tell me the truth of what’s happening in Ukraine, bombed cities, children and old people killed.

“We need to try and convince Russia to cease fire, find a diplomatic solution and stop this war.”

Former Ukraine striker Shevchenko is a hero to fans of AC Milan after scoring over 170 goals for the Serie A club, winning a league title and the 2003 Champions League.

The 45-year-old was on the programme to promote a fund-raising initiative led by the Italian Red Cross as part of the body’s humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

“When I arrived in Italy, the country opened its heart to me. You made me feel like one of you, and I feel like it’s my second home,” he continued.

“Now I ask you: open you hearts to my people, we need your help… make them feel like you made me feel.”

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