Home Sports De Zerbi meets his boys Shakhtar starts from Istanbul

De Zerbi meets his boys Shakhtar starts from Istanbul

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De Zerbi meets his boys Shakhtar starts from Istanbul

The government of Kiev has given the green light to the athletes, subject to military obligations They will face in a friendly match Sevilla, Lazio, Psg and perhaps even Barcelona


“We will not abandon you.” Roberto De Zerbi had promised this to Shakthar Donetsk players and staff on February 28, before leaving Kiev with his small group of Italian collaborators. Now the Brescia coach keeps his commitment: tomorrow, 44 days after the outbreak of the war, he will leave Bologna for Istanbul, where he will meet his Ukrainian boys.

They were destined for war, a special derogation from the Zelensky government took them away from the logistical services to which they had been assigned in the meantime, for a different mission in the name of Ukraine. About twenty players, including young people from the Mariupol nursery, will train to play friendly charities for the victims of the war. The goal is that of a tour of peace, still to be built as the truce desired by every Ukrainian. “We want to hug our boys again: I promised them that we would do something to help them if we could,” explained De Zerbi on the eve of departure. “For me it’s important to get them out there to do what they know and what their life is like.”

«We will play against the Istanbul teams, then probably against Sevilla, Lazio and Paris Saint Germain. Guardiola also wants to play with Shakhtar, he just has to find a date for his City, ”explained Carlo Nicolini, leader of the group of Italians who worked with Shakhtar in Kiev, after Donetsk had been abandoned in the first Donbass war. Those who know De Zerbi say that for days the former Sassuolo technician, on his return to Italy after being stranded in Kiev in the first days of the Russian bombings, closed himself in silence and in the living room of his home in Brescia. Glued to the TV to follow the developments of the war unleashed by the Russian invasion, day after day the weight of his thoughts grew.

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Then, about ten days ago, something moved. Kiev has granted certain athletes – judokas and wrestlers – permission to leave the country for international competitions, notwithstanding the obligation of all men between 18 and 60 who can be enlisted not to leave the country. So the sports director Dario Srna contacted Uefa, whose president Ceferin had supported the FIGC in the expatriation of the Italians and the Brazilian Shakthar group. And the go-ahead has also arrived from Kiev to leave the country. There are only two conditions: everyone will have to reach Istanbul and conduct the new preparation at their own expense. The permit will last until 25 May. Dinamo Kiev, coached by Mircea Lucescu, joined the same project – giving a voice to the Ukrainian people through football: also for its players allowed until 25 May, and meeting already held in Bucharest to prepare friendly matches.

The choice of Istanbul for the Shakthar has a strong symbolic value, the city on the Bosphorus hosted the last diplomatic talks between Kiev and Moscow. The local football association and Basaskehir, a club near Erdogan, offered logistical assistance for the training fields, the material, perhaps even some accommodation. Support from a technical sponsor is sought. De Zerbi immediately said yes, even if FIFA had granted an exemption to Ukrainian club members to free themselves; the Italian collaborators are ready with him (Possanzini and Bianco will not go), waiting to know who they will find in Istanbul.

At the moment, there are a dozen Ukrainian players traveling to Turkey, plus seven or eight young players on loan to other clubs and a few free agents. All of enlistment age, but no one – the club staff said – would have taken up arms for now. Most were engaged in the logistics of supporting the population battered by Russian bombs. Among them are goalkeeper Turpin, a native of Donetsk, defender Krystzov, of Zaporizhya, and Bondar, a native of Kharkiv. –

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