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Andriy Shevchenko was born on September 29, 1976 in the small village of Dvirkivshchyna in the Ukrainian province of Kyiv. It seems like he has been playing soccer ever since that day, and he has certainly excelled at it. When Shevchenko was only nine years old, Olexandr Shpakov recruited him to play for the Dynamo Kyiv youth soccer league. He spent about ten years playing the junior leagues for Dynamo. During this time, he won numerous awards, including several for top scorer.
In the 1994/1995 season, Shevchenko made his "major league" debut with Dynamo Kyiv. He only scored one goal, but in a 1999 article in World Soccer magazine, he states, "I'll remember that goal for the rest of my life… After a corner-kick the ball came off one of the defenders and I blasted it into the top corner of the net."
Since his first goal of his professional career, Shevchenko has taken off and never looked back. He has been named top scorer for five years in a row, and has played in numerous championship games. He led his team to the Ukrainian Gold five years in a row, and was named Ukrainian Footballer of the year four times.
In 1999, Shevchenko signed a $16.3 deal to play for AC Milan in Italy. Just recently, he extended his contract, which was set to expire in 2005, for another four years. In the beginning of his time with AC Milan, Shevchenko went through a bit of a slump, but this his game has picked up this year, as he was named Serie A Top Scorer for the second time.
Aside from being a world-class soccer (or football, whichever you prefer) player,Shevchenko also seems to be a genuinely nice person.
The club will miss Shevchenko enormously. As head coach Valeri Lobanovsky puts it: "He has everything a striker needs -- good vision, incredible pace and physical strength, plus the most important factor of all, which is feeling for the goal, where it is in relation to the part of the pitch in which he happens to be. He also likes to work in training and is learning more and more about the game's tactical side."
Dynamo president Hryhori Surkis has no fears about Shevchenko's future, saying: "He is very mature for such a young man, a strong personality who can overcome every possible problem."
Dynamo players are sure that their soon-to-depart colleague will do well. Fellow striker Serhi Rebrov says: "Playing with Andri is a pleasure, and I have learned a lot from him since we teamed up in 1995. He will develop in a truly great player."
Defender Yuri Dmytrulin adds: "I can imagine how difficult it must be to oppose him. I'm glad I don't have to."
Shevchenko seems to make every attempt to give credit where it is due. He has been quoted numerous times as saying that every win was a team effort, giving credit to his teammates, even if Shevchenko was the person who scored the winning goal.
Because of Shevchnko's popularity and winning personality, he is a great help in bringing positive press to Ukraine, something that Ukraine is in great need of.