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Russian invasion of Ukraine

"Sudakov could play for City or Barcelona, but now he's in a bunker"

Fernando Valente, manager of Shakhtar Donetsk's reserve side, says the 19-year-old is one of the best natural talents he has ever seen.

"Sudakov could play for City or Barcelona, but now he's in a bunker"

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion is getting steadily worse and is affecting athletes in the same way as the rest of Ukraine’s civilian population. One such example is that of Georgiy Sudakov, a 19-year-old attacking midfielder who had the world at his feet just a few weeks ago. Fernando Valente, who coaches Shakhtar Donetsk’s reserve side, has described Sudakov as one of the most exciting players in the country but now he, like many Ukrainians who have not managed to flee the Russian advance, is holed up trying to avoid the fighting raging across Ukraine’s cities. Sudakov made his debut for Shakhtar in the 2020-21 Champions League against Real Madrid and has been capped three times by Ukraine.

“Sudakov was the most talented player I ever coached"

“Sudakov was the most talented player I ever coached,” Valente wrote on social media, with a picture showing the contrast between joyous images of the player before the invasion and he and his wife sheltering in a bunker. “A Ukrainian international, who recently renewd his contract with Shakhtar until 2026; a wonderful human being with a little girl on the way with his wife Lisa… They had dreams to fulfill, dreams that have been snatched away by a bunker for a senseless war. I pray for this couple and the for all the young players and friends that I made in Ukraine and who made me happy for the two years I was there. My heart is broken.”

Sudakov is a lad with enormous potential, he could even play for Barcelona or Manchester City. He was the best player I coached and we have a strong relationship. I have a photo on my phone of him and his wife, who is pregnant, and they are so happy, and a little while ago he sent me another of them in a bunker. Every time I look at it, it brings tears to my eyes,” Valente told Agencia Lusa. “Fortunately, another 15 players I coached at Shakhtar and now play for Mariupol are out of the country as they were at a pre-season training camp in Turkey, after the winter break, when the war started,” Valente added.


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