Sheva's Ace: Now Ukraine's Reborn Hero Has A Point To Prove To The English

KIEV, Ukraine -- Dismissed as a £30m ($47 million) failure after two years at Chelsea, Shevchenko showed he's still got it at 35 with a goal double as the Euro 2012 co-hosts shocked Sweden.

Golden oldie: Shevchenko rolled back the years in Ukraine's Euros opener.

Andriy Shevchenko has a point to prove when he faces England.

An ill-fated two-year spell at Chelsea, where the Ukraine skipper proved a £30 million ($47 million) flop, will undoubtedly give him extra motivation when the co-hosts meet England on June 19.

Shevchenko rolled back the years with two superbly-taken headed goals in Ukraine’s 2-1 win over Sweden in their Group D opener, despite the memory of his Chelsea nightmare.

Ukraine team-mate Andriy Voronin, who suffered a miserable time in England himself during a short spell at Liverpool, said Shevchenko showed he remains a world-class striker.

Chelsea fans will not have recognised the Shevchenko who turned the game in Ukraine’s favour with two goals in seven minutes.

Shevchenko never came close at Stamford Bridge to producing the form that saw him crowned European Footballer of the Year in 2004, when he was arguably the most ruthless finisher in the world during the peak of his career at AC Milan.

At 35, Shevchenko’s form has suffered with age as well as troublesome knee and back problems, but his two goals showed his predatory instincts remain as sharp as ever.

“Sheva is still a great player and a national hero to us all,” said Voronin.

“It’s an honour to have him in the team. People who say that he’s not a great player are not correct.

“He may have been under-valued in England, but that doesn’t matter to me or to us here.” If Shevchenko can stay fit and ensure his body can cope with playing every few days, Ukraine could cause problems for France and England, their next two opponents.

Shevchenko’s double against the Swedes took his international goal tally to 48 and it would be a fairytale for Ukraine’s hero to reach a half-century on his last appearance in a tournament.

Not even being shunted from behind when he stopped his Porsche at traffic lights while driving home after the match could dampen Sheva’s enthusiasm.

He was unhurt in the accident and said: “Six months ago I couldn’t imagine I would play in the Euros.

“I had lots of problems with my knee and back but a lot of people helped me to get in good condition. It was probably one of my best games of the season and a great day for Ukraine."

“It was an historic win but we have two very tough games to go. We have a great chance to go through but we should not be too euphoric yet."

“We don’t want to relax. We cannot afford to do that after such a great start. We need to build on this.”

Ukraine, who play England in their final group game in Donetsk, have given themselves every chance of making the knockout stage with victory over Sweden.

But Voronin, now playing for Dynamo Moscow, said the co-hosts must focus on getting something from their next game against France in Donetsk on Friday.

“We’re looking forward to the England game and, of course, we will be motivated,” said Voronin.

“But first we have to play France. We have shown against Sweden that we are a better team than people thought."

"This first victory means everything to us and we cannot underestimate how valuable the home crowd is to us and what effect they may have on the opposition."

“We certainly need them behind us. France are a good team, one of the best in the competition. We cannot underestimate how good Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema are.”

Source: Mirror Online