Shakhtar Donetsk have not played in their home stadium since 2014. Their matchdays now typically have no crowds, air raid sirens interrupt games and thoughts of and fears for family, friends and hometowns frontline troops loom large in the players’ minds ahead of every game.
These are extraordinary times – but Shakhtar is an extraordinary club. Displaced when fighting first began in the Donbas region, and then again when Russia mounted a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, this book honours a club – players, coaching staff, management – who choose to play on. In a time of chaos and conflict, they have become emblems of hope and unity.
They are winning on the pitch, and winning hearts and minds across the world. Following the club’s meteoric rise from domestic team to domineering European contenders, Andy Brassell expertly weaves a story of Shakhtar through the ages – their origin story after Ukrainian independence, their evolution and their reinvention. The war forced an exodus of star players and staff and the club has had to find itself once again.
With direct testimony and exclusive interviews from those at Shakhtar, this book delivers unparalleled insight to the club’s journey – one that is all too often hidden from view. The result is an ode to Shakhtar Donetsk, shining a light on the beauty and force of their football and their fight to play on.