KIEV (Reuters) - Andriy Shevchenko’s retirement after Euro 2012 left a huge void in Ukrainian football and it has taken time for the younger generation to throw up a new leader.
Step forward Andriy Yarmolenko, whose 22 goals have established him as the player most likely to fill the role a full decade after he was saddled with the tag of the “new Shevchenko”.
Back in 2006, Dynamo’s former head coach, Anatoliy Demyanenko, told a news conference that the club’s scouts had found “a new Shevchenko within 130 kilometres of Kiev”, without saying who it was.
The secrecy led to jokes from supporters about the new player’s identity and it has taken Yarmolenko time to justify that early hype.
He played a decisive role in reaching France, scoring four times in the qualifying campaign, and twice more in the 3-1 aggregate playoff win over Slovenia.
The 26-year-old has been equally prolific for his club, scoring 19 times in a season which saw Dynamo Kiev win their second successive title.
Yarmolenko’s statistics are all the more impressive given his position as a winger rather than a striker. He boasts an impressive skillset, with confident ball control, impressive passing and dribbling plus high endurance.
On top of that, Yarmolenko frequently gets into the box or shoots from just outside it with his pinpoint left foot,
The only drawback has been a certain predictability out wide but he has attracted many admirers among top clubs and been linked with a move to both England and China.
Editing by Neil Robinson