Croatian legend Darijo Srna explains Ukraine evacuation “chaotic” as UEFA chief intervenes

Darijo Srna is currently the director of football for Shakhtar Donetsk, where he has spent most of his playing career and helped the current team leave Kyiv following the Russian invasion.

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Former captain of the Croatian team Darijo Srna shared the details of the tumultuous hours when he helped By Shakhtar Donetsk players far from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv during the Russian invasion of the country.

The 39-year-old, who has played over 500 games for Shakhtar and won 134 international caps, has returned to his former club as director of football after ending his playing career in 2019.

He was in Donetsk in 2014, when Russia’s annexation of Crimea took place and the Donbas-based club have been playing their home games in Kyiv since 2020 and have saw one of their young coaches killed as fighting continues on the Ukrainian border.

When the invasion began on 24 February, those in Kyiv were forced to act quickly, and Srna opened up to the need to make the “right decision” and the help of UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

Srna is Croatia’s second most capped player, after Luka Modric



“I am calm but I am also scared. I’ve been through this before,” Srna said Guard, explained that he had been forced to flee Donetsk three days earlier airport attack 2014.

“The club recommends two buses for everyone but no one can tell you: ‘Yes, everything will be fine on the road.’ On the second day, the embassies all said they can’t help, it’s not safe, we have to stay in the hotel.

“That’s when you almost start to panic: in the first few days there’s so much news going around, some of it being fake, and you start getting a lot of calls from friends and family saying: ‘ Get out, get out.’ You’re under pressure and it wasn’t easy to compose at the time.”

“It was a kind of chaos,” added Srna, who helped Shakhtar players and staff move west while trying to stay calm while forced to gather in the basement when the sirens sounded. up.

He also appreciated Ceferin’s role in helping with the evacuation, with the UEFA chief helping to coordinate transport for the players and Ukraine FA director, Andriy Pavelko, allowed some of the South Americans on the club’s books to travel in the direction of relative safety.

Shakhtar has a long history of signing Brazilian players, and one of their current members – Junior Moraes, the Brazilian-born Ukraine international – has been contacted directly by Ceferin.

Srna praises Ceferin’s help


UEFA via Getty Images)

“Ceferin and Pavelko did a great job,” explained Srna after the evacuation.

“They have shown that they are not only the top president, but the top people. Ceferin took on this assignment as if he were taking care of his own family. In war, you find out who is your friend and who is not; who gives you a glass of water and who gives you a glass of milk. Today that feels very important. ”

Some of Shakhtar’s foreign players have been allowed to leave the country but many Ukrainian nationals are forced to stay within their borders, and the club have shared several messages on social media praising the unity of the country. football community.

Current Ukrainian players Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko are among those who have called on the football community to help stop the war, sending messages like part of a broader appeal.

Yarmolenko also aimed at Russian players for not speaking out, ask “why are you sitting like sh ****** s and not saying anything?”.

“I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for my daughter, my family, I’d be there [fighting]”Zinchenko told Gary Lineker in an emotional interview, after the player Karpaty Lviv and the recruit Vitalii Sapylo among the first soccer players to be killed in war.

“I’m so proud. I’m so proud to be Ukrainian. And I will forever be for the rest of my life. And when you’re watching people, how they fight for their lives.. There is none,” said Zinchenko.

“I know the people, the mentality of the people of my country. They prefer to die, and they will die. But they won’t let me. [up]. “

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