(AP Worldstream) Andriy Shevchenko already has fulfilled many of his dreams and promises. The big one beckons when he leads Ukraine at next year's World Cup.
Shevchenko, supported by Andriy Husin and Andriy Voronin, scored six goals as Ukraine qualified for the finals of soccer's showcase for first time.
"Sheva" - as fans of his Italian club, AC Milan, call him - said in a recent interview he already had achieved some of his goals.
He promised his mentor, Valery Lobanosky, to become the first Ukrainian player to win the Champions League title and he did it with AC Milan in 2003, converting the decisive penalty in a shootout with Italian rival Juventus.
He dreamt of winning the Golden Ball award as Europe's best soccer player and took the prize last year. "Reaching the World Cup finals with Ukraine was another of my dreams by now achieved. Next ... comes a good showing in the finals against the world soccer giants," Shevchenko said.
Idolized at home, Shevchenko is feeding high hopes of Ukrainian soccer fans. "We expect only victory, nothing else (in Germany)," said Yevheniy Bobok, a 27-year-old businessman who works in central Kiev. "Let Shevchenko score many goals for his fatherland."
Shevchenko has scored many goals indeed. He has 113 with AC Milan in Serie A matches since joining the Milan powerhouse in 1999 on a A20.7 million ($24.31 million) move from Dynamo Kiev.
He scored 24 goals in his first season in Italy to become the Serie A top striker. With Ukraine he has 21 goals and 38 caps.
Shevchenko is considered one of the best forwards on the European stage, combining speed and power with great technique. Yet the creed of the 29-year-old is teamwork.
"I'm the player finalizing the team efforts, but the teamwork is the key to every success. When I score, it's not my victory but the team victory," Shevchenko said after netting four goals in a crucial European Champions League match against Fenerbahce last month.
He repeated the deeds of former AC Milan Dutch star Marco Van Basten - now Netherlands coach - who tallied four in a Champions League match against IFK Goteborg in 1992.
Like Van Basten, Sheva is a quick goal poacher inside the penalty area but is also strong with headers and can score from the distance with both feet. "What unites me and Van Basten is the ball rolling into the net," he says.
A hardworking professional in training, Shevchenko also thinks of business and his future. He has been modeling for Italian top fashion designer Giorgio Armani and has opened an Armani shop in Kiev.
Soccer and business come after his family, however. "Soccer trophies don't change your life, but a son does," he said at the baptism of his first son, Jordan, last September.
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