January 27, 2023

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Ukrainian football champions on their way to Norway:

Andriy Vorobey smiles as he points to the Ukrainian National Square. Olympic stadium.

Just over 20 years ago, 50,000 spectators got to their feet when Vorobei sent Ukraine into the lead against Greece.

– It was a great feeling, Vorobei exclaims.

Then the smile disappears. The former soccer player gets serious in the mine.

– Unfortunately, the arena is now empty, like many other stadiums in the country. Everyone is waiting for the war to end and for the people to return, Vorobei tells TV 2.

Closed: The gates of the National Arena are closed. They have been for almost a year. Photo: Aage Aune/TV 2

It is nearly ten years since Russia annexed Crimea. And less than a year ago, Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of its neighboring country, Ukraine.

Overnight, millions were forced to flee, while others took up arms to defend their country.

– Many people have lost their homes, many have lost their loved ones. Many people have died. Can not be described. We’re going through tough times, Vorobei says.

Only eight players have scored more goals for the national team than the 44-year-old Ukrainian. In the big club Shakhtar Donetsk, he is a club legend with more than 200 appearances.

On the road: The long journey to Norway began on Tuesday morning for Andriy Vorobey and the rest of the Ukrainian veterans.  Photo: Oleksandr Techynskyi / TV 2

On the road: The long journey to Norway began on Tuesday morning for Andriy Vorobey and the rest of the Ukrainian veterans. Photo: Oleksandr Techynskyi / TV 2

– He will tell the Norwegians the truth

A delegation of more than 20 Ukrainians, more than a dozen of whom have played international matches, will take part in Traditional Warriors Cup In Sogn, which is being staged for the 25th time.

This week, many Ukrainians are swapping shelters in Ukraine for idyllic Sogn indoor shelters.

One of the participants fought at the front during the war, while the others contributed to volunteer work.

In the Veterans’ Cup, they meet the unofficial veteran Norwegian national team on Saturday. Here you can find legends like John Arne Riise, Tore André Flo, Håvard Flo, Stig Inge Bjørnebye and Eirik Bakke.

– We travel to win, but the main goal is to tell the world what’s going on in Ukraine, says the Shakhtar Donetsk legend.

Ukraine profile: These are some of the players on their way to Norway for the Veterans Cup in Laerdal.  Photo: Oleksandr Techynskyi / TV 2

Ukraine profile: These are some of the players on their way to Norway for the Veterans Cup in Laerdal. Photo: Oleksandr Techynskyi / TV 2

– We want people to open their eyes to everything that happens. Don’t expect anything in return. We just want to tell the truth. Not what is said on TV, but the truth from people who live in war-torn areas.

– We are not Nazis. We are people who live in our country. We do not wish anyone any harm. Vorobei says: We live in our country, on our lands.

The former soccer player alludes to pA resident of Vladimir PutinFalse claims that Ukraine had to be “de-Nazified”, and therefore an invasion was necessary.

A former football player was recruited – he was injured

The place is quiet just outside the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv. Cars pass by, but few people move along the streets.

One of them is former Dynamo Kyiv goalkeeper Svyatoslav “Slava” Serota. He wears a military green woolen jacket.

Long fights: Svyatoslav Sirota has been fighting the Russians for a year.  Photo: Aage Aune/TV 2

Long fights: Svyatoslav Sirota has been fighting the Russians for a year. Photo: Aage Aune/TV 2

The two retired soccer players give each other a good hug when they meet during the interview with TV2.

– He’s one of the all-time Ukrainian attacking players, believe me! Serota says.

– No, no, no, Vorobei modestly answers.

Slava himself, as he is called, wishes that he, too, could travel to Norway and pass on the message to the Ukrainians. He won’t understand that.

Soon after his family was evacuated from Potsja, The site of one of the war’s worst massacres in Marchenlisted.

Now he is part of the presidential brigade of Volodymyr Zelensky. Like many of the volunteers, Serota injured himself in the front, so he can’t travel to Norway for the tournament.

– If someone had told me that I should fight, not only serve, but be in the trenches, I would not have believed it. I would say this person was out of his mind. I didn’t even serve in the army, Sirota tells TV 2.

Injured: Slava Sirota injured himself in the forehead.  Photo: Aage Aune/TV 2

Injured: Slava Sirota injured himself in the forehead. Photo: Aage Aune/TV 2

Slava TV 2 takes to a fan pub close to the ring.

Pictures of the club’s champions, cup lifts and the Ukrainian flag hang on the walls.

Before the war, it was the national team that gathered supporters of rivals Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Now they stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against the Russians.

There are no strangers in football. Everyone knows each other. When you play a sport in a small country, everyone knows who everyone is, Serota tells TV2.

This is what awaits Ukrainian players in Lardal

In the run-up to the tournament, the Football for Ukraine organization was founded. The goal is to raise funds for humanitarian actions in Ukraine. Among other things, energy supplies, food and clothing.

On Wednesday morning, the Ukrainians will arrive in Norway. Some of the players then travel to Storting, while others travel to Ullevaal to meet with Head of Football Lise Klaveness and NFF General Secretary Karl-Peter Løken.

On Thursday, there will be a party for the Ukrainian players and refugees who ended up in Sogn. In the evening there will be a concert with Tone Damli, as well as many local artists. Ukrainian artists living as refugees in Sogn will also perform the songs.

On Friday and Saturday, the stage is set for a football tournament.

Norway and Ukraine meet on Saturday.

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