Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko to travel to Poland to collect family

The winger has been given time off by the club after his country was invaded (Pictures: Getty)

West Ham star Andriy Yarmolenko will fly to Poland in the coming days to collect his family after they fled Ukraine, according to national team legend Andriy Shevchenko.

Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine which has already claimed the lives of over 2000 civilians, while the UN says more than half a million people have fled their homes to escape the war.

Yarmolenko – Ukraine’s third most capped player ever – has been granted time off by West Ham following the invasion and now Shevchenko, his former national team manager, has revealed that the 32-year-old’s family were forced to flee the country.

‘Sport has incredible power to change the world and this is what it does,’ Shevchenko, who is regarded as one of Ukraine’s greatest ever athletes, told Sky Sports News.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our live blog: Russia-Ukraine live

‘It is incredible when Everton support [Vitaliy] Mykolenko, when Manchester City support [Oleksandr] Zinchenko.

‘Yarmolenko has got his situation also… his wife was with one of his children in Ukraine, just crossed the border – she is in Poland now.

‘Andriy I think is flying now to Poland to get his wife. I’m not sure but I know his wife, I think she is now across the border and she is probably coming here.

‘I know how difficult it is for him – it’s a stressful time when his family are there.

‘I can’t even concentrate. I just look at the news at what’s going on a little bit. I can’t watch even a football game.’

Yarmolenko is still believed to be in the UK after being granted compassionate leave by West Ham and has been very vocal on social media in his condemnation of Putin’s invasion, branding Russia’s football team ‘s***heads’ for staying silent.

Shevchenko, meanwhile, says he has considered going back to Ukraine to join the fight himself – with his mother and sister opting to remain in Kyiv – but feels he can be of better use by being an advocate for his country and using his platform to gain support and assistance.

He continued: ‘I’m so proud to be Ukrainian. It’s a very difficult moment for my country, my people, my family. My mum and sister are in Kyiv at the moment, and terrible things have happened there. People dying, children dying, missiles pointing into our houses.

‘We need to stop this war, we need to find a way to stop the war. We have refugees, we need humanitarian aid. We need medical support, food support. It feels like I can do a lot here, and I will do.

‘I have tried [to convince my family to leave] many times, I have talked to them, but the answer is no. They want to stay there. This is the Ukrainian spirit.

‘Football doesn’t exist for me anymore. I don’t think about it. It’s not the time for that. I’m not watching anything, any sport, anything.

‘All my concentration, when I wake up, I think about how I can help my country, what I can do. I’ve started to call my parents, my friends, get updates on what’s going on in Ukraine. For me, this is my field, this is my concentration now.’

MORE : Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko blasts ‘s***head’ Russian players and mocks Artem Dzyuba

MORE : Premier League outline plans for clubs and captains to show Ukraine support this weekend

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