Yarmolenko’s broken soul: the joy with West Ham and the pain for Ukraine

The Ukrainian tearfully celebrates a goal in the English Premier League.

Photo: Credit: Getty Images

West Ham beat Sevilla and eliminated it from the Europa League last Thursday. The unexpected figure was Andriy Yarmolenko, a striker who is not a regular starter for the London team. After a rebound from the Sevilla goalkeeper, the Ukrainian unleashed a right hand that left the Andalusians out of the tournament in which they have stood out the most.

Despite being a Premier League team, West Ham is not a team that stands out internationally. Thursday’s feat was a historic moment for the club, especially for the rival they beat. Now, they will face Lyon in the quarterfinals of the continental tournament. However, the hero of the day kept a straight face during the minutes he was on the pitch, even when he scored the goal. After the final whistle all his teammates went to look for him and he barely showed a smile. He then approached a fan who had the flag of his country and gave him his shirt.

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Yarmolenko came from several difficult months at the sporting level. He has not started any game this season and in the previous one he only started one game. In terms of goals, he was not going through his best moment either, since in the last two years he barely scored once per league. He even heard criticism like โ€œyou only play well for your teamโ€ from fans.

Last week his gray history began to take on a bit of color when the hammers they welcomed Aston Villa. It was Yarmolenko’s first match since the invasion began. He entered the 52nd minute amid a standing ovation for solidarity with his country. Minutes later he received a ball in the area and after turning around he sent an unattainable left-footed shot for the goalkeeper. It was his first goal for the Premier since July 2020.

Yarmolenko did not celebrate that goal. He simply raised his arms, one of them wearing a black armband, looked up at the sky and got down on his knees. The emotion he felt was such that he burst into tears. “It’s very difficult for me to think about football now because every day the Russian army kills Ukrainians,” he told Sky News at the end of the match against the Russians. villains. That day the voice of the stadium said that a goal for West Ham was a goal for Ukraine. No sooner said than done.

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The winger said that he has relatives in the middle of the war and that he is very affected by it. In addition, the stadium of Desna Chernihiv, the club in which he made his debut, was destroyed in a bombing. However, as revealed by his coach David Moyes, the team has supported him in this difficult time. For example, the Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski helped the Ukrainian’s family to enter Poland.

As the captain of the Ukraine national team, Yarmolenko referred to the Russian invasion on more than one occasion. In one of them he criticized Artem Dzyuba, captain of the Russian team and reproached him for his lack of character when speaking about the conflict. Other Ukrainian Premier League players such as Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko and Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko joined the criticism against their Russian colleagues.

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For now, the future of the war in Ukraine is uncertain. Meanwhile, its citizens play the most important game in their history at home.