When Your Champions League Dream Runs Through a War Zone-News

Kelsy said signing a five-year contract with a club in a country at war was a surprisingly easy decision. The hope of fulfilling the dream of going to Europe outweighed everything else, he said – even the constant threat from Russian missiles and planes, the constant wailing of airplane sirens and the exploding of distant bombs. But his family had questions.

“When I told them, they asked me, ‘Why in Ukraine?'” he said in Spanish. “They knew everything that happened, and there was a little fear and a little fear. But I talked to them about this topic, that it is very important for me to go and play football in Europe, in a big team like Shakhtar, and in the end they understood.”

Kelsy, like many South Americans who have signed for Ukrainian clubs in the past, sees this club as the starting point of a journey that he hopes will one day lead him to his dream club, AC Milan. Games in elite competitions like the Champions League, he knows, provide an elite platform to prove himself. (Shakhtar, who led the Ukrainian league entering the weekend, are on track to return to the competition next season.)

Having lost many players, Palkin, the Shakhtar boss, is now insisting that any new players sign contracts that contain clauses that would prevent them from using FIFA’s rules that would allow them to leave suddenly. Every player who has signed here, he said, understands the commitment they are making.

It is very difficult to make it as a professional in Europe, however, Kelsy said that no fight will stop him from coming. He said: “I try not to think about this, and think about what is important now.”

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