‘It is important that we show our support for Ukraine’
England defender Kieran Trippier recalls being based in Ukraine back in 2009 and why Sunday’s match will have added importance
Having spent time in Ukraine during his teens whilst representing England Under-19s, Kieran Trippier said it has been difficult to see the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion and believes this weekend’s EURO qualifier provides an opportunity to show support for the country.
There has been widespread destruction across Ukraine since the large-scale invasion started 13 months ago, with some areas, including Donetsk, seeing fighting for several years before that.
Trippier and his England team-mate Kyle Walker were part of the England MU19s squad in 2009 which reached the UEFA U19 EURO Final, after emerging through two sets of qualifying rounds to reach the last eight.
The MU19s were based in Donetsk and after facing the hosts in the group stage, would ultimately go on to lose 2-0 to Ukraine in the Final.
Trippier recalls: “We were in Donetsk for a couple of weeks and although we couldn’t travel around the city much, the people really welcomed us and helped us settle in really quickly, which was important considering we were such a young age.
“It was great to experience the city, the culture, and have the experience of playing there. I remember it was really hot as well!
“It was a really nice city, with really friendly people.”
He continued: “So it was difficult to then see the situation what is happening there. People are trying to save their country and do everything they can, and the world has come together in the sense of supporting them and trying to help them out.
“It really isn’t nice to see and to think that we have Ukrainian players in the Premier League where they have had to play knowing that their families are [at risk] back in Ukraine.
“So it is important that we show our support and try to support them where we can.”
On Sunday, Ukraine’s men’s senior team will visit Wembley Stadium connected by EE to take on England in a UEFA EURO 2024 qualifier.
Around 4,200 Ukrainian fans are expected at the match, with more than 1,000 of them being invited alongside host families who’ve welcomed them into their homes across Britain as part of the Government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme, following it’s launch in March last year.
There are reportedly 117,000 Ukrainians in Britain still unable to return home, as the war continues into its second year, and The FA and Wembley Stadium worked with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain to offer the tickets as a thank you to the sponsor families.
It is one of the gestures of support taking place on Sunday and when asked whether the match had an extra dimension to it because of the chance for the players to also show their support for Ukraine,
Trippier said: “Yeah definitely. The Premier League have been great in that sense by trying to support Ukraine and I think it hasn’t just been football, it has been every sport.
“On Sunday it will be no different and off the field, we will be supporting them as much as we can, whilst on the field, we still have to go out there and try to win the match.”
England v Ukraine: Match Centre