The world-worsening coronavirus pandemic and the Chernobyl nuclear accident ... Two completely different tragedies, but for one person they are similar.

Andrey Shevtshenko, the most famous and successful footballer in Ukraine, has experienced both: the current coronavirus tragedy and the worst nuclear accident of all time as a 9 year old boy in April 1986.

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The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in what is now Ukraine, near Kiev, where Shevchenko spent his childhood in the suburbs.

Greenpeace estimates that the accident resulted in the premature death of about 100,000 people, but according to the UN has indirectly affected the lives of more than 3.5 million people.

Located near Chernobyl, Pripjat has been a desert city for almost 34 years. In the background is an exploded reactor. The picture is from 2006.

Photo: Alexey Mjakishev

"I was living through a similar situation in Ukraine in the Chernobyl nuclear accident," Shevtshenko told Italian Sky Sports Italy after he had been in quarantine for 10 days while visiting London.

Still, Shevthsenko, 43, insists and appeals to others that authorities' calls and orders must be followed without complacency.

- All we can do is respect the instructions given by the authorities, stay at home and let the doctors do their job, which is a lot. The stupid behavior must stop now. None of us can be sure that it is not the virus itself that carries the virus. We cannot think only of ourselves, but of those who can be very dangerous, Shevtshenko stressed.

The situation in Italy matters

Shevtshenko has a special sympathy for Italy and the Italians. Shevtshenko played the best years of his career in Italy, AC Milan, and considers Italy his second home.

Of all European countries, the coronavirus has crushed Italy in particular. The virus has already claimed nearly 11,000 deaths in Italy.

- I want to tell all Italians that I always feel close to them. We must live in the hope that things will improve. We can handle this together!

The greatest achievements of Shevtshenko's playing career were the Champions League victory in 2003 and the Italian championship in 2004 at AC Milan.

In addition, Shevtshenko is a five-time Ukrainian champion and has twice won both the Champions League and the Italian Serie A title.

Today, Shevtshenko coaches the Ukrainian national team.

Andrei Shevtshenko is on pace for the Kiev Dynamo in the Champions League match in 2009.

Photo: Antti Hämäläinen / IS