Former right-back and current Shakhtar Donetsk director of football, Darijo Srna, has spoken to Marca ahead of the club’s Champions League match with Real Madrid on Wednesday.
“In 1991 in Croatia, in 2014 in Donetsk and now in the whole of Ukraine,” he says when describing the current war in Ukraine.
“I am proud of this team. For me they are heroes,” he continues.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Shakhtar were caught on the wrong foot. “The beginning was a disaster. We were in Kyiv with the team and we organised everything, especially with the foreign players. Some were leaving by car, others by train…”, he recalls.
A scene that, inevitably, reminds him of what happened eight years ago, when they had to leave Donetsk because of the Dombas war. Their stadium, the Donbass Arena, which belongs to UEFA’s elite category, was destroyed by shelling.
“In 2014 we had to leave Donetsk, our home, our stadium, our sports city and we have our fans all over the world. We moved to Kyiv and, when we adapted, another war starts. It is difficult to explain our life from then until today.
“We are a team without an address and that is the most painful thing. We have played in Lviv, in Odessa, in Kharkov, now the Champions League in Warsaw… My daughter calls me and I tell her that one day I’m in Kyiv, the next day I’m in London? Sometimes I wake up and I don’t know where I am,” says the Shakhtar director of football.