As war continues in Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk hopes to send message of hope with 'miracle' season
But even by Shakhtar’s standards, the events that have unfolded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February have been unprecedented.
Players from Shakhtar Donetsk prepare to face Olympiacos FC in the team's peace tour last year.
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images Europe/Getty ImagesGames resumed in August but only after global soccer governing body FIFA announced that foreign players could leave Ukrainian teams following the outbreak of the war.
“We lost half our team … we lost our coaching staff and actually we started everything from the beginning, from scratch,” says Palkin.
Shakhtar hired a new coach, Croatian Igor Jovićević, ahead of the resumption of the Ukrainian Premier League and rebuilt its squad with Ukrainian players.
“For players, its difficult because almost all players are living without families, [who] are living abroad in safety areas,” says Palkin.
Shakhtar's players pose with the Ukrainian flag after defeating RB Leipzig in the Champions League in September.
“For us, what we did in the Champions League group stage was a miracle – almost a new team and a new coaching staff and we got third position in the group.
I’m very proud of our team.”The Ukrainian Premier League is currently on a winter break.
Mudryk, who scored three goals in this season’s Champions League group stages, arrives at Chelsea with the club 10th in the league table amid a disastrous run of results.
For my last 20 years, I have never seen this kind of player … I am sure that this guy will bring Chelsea a lot of titles.”Mudryk celebrates scoring against Celtic in the Champions League last October.
And beyond financing aid relief for Ukraine, Shakhtar has the wider, less tangible goal of spreading hope every time the team takes to the field.