ENGLAND players and fans have joined together to pay a poignant tribute to Ukraine ahead of tonight’s Euro qualifier.
Players from both teams called for peace in a strong show of solidarity before the game, holding a Ukrainian flag with the word on it.
Harry Kane led his Three Lions teammates to send a message of peace after the Russian invasion of the country.
Wembley erupted in a sea of blues and yellows as the Ukrainian flag was hoisted over the stadium.
The Ukrainian team draped themselves in flags as they took to the pitch.
Fans held up Ukrainian flags as an emotional rendition of the national anthem echoed through the stadium.
Former Blues star and ex-Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko shared his moving thoughts on the Ukrainian people ahead of kick-off: “In very difficult moments we all united.”
England’s record goalscorer and team captain Harry Kane said on Channel 4: “It’s been a magical few days after last night’s amazing result. We’ve had a few days to calm down and have a good rest to look forward to an important game. “
He stressed the importance of tonight’s game against Ukraine: “It’s going to be a special night. I’ll have my wife and kids with me to take a picture. We have an important game so I’m trying not to think.” too much about that.”
Tributes were also paid to Jack Leslie, who was dropped from the England squad in 1925 because of his skin colour.
His family was posthumously presented with the England Cap of Honor.
England boss Gareth Southgate told Kelly Somers on Channel 4: “We clearly have a lot of respect for everything that’s happening [in Ukraine]. There are many honors, sympathies and support for Ukraine.
“It’s a football game and of course there are a lot of important things happening in the world, but that’s what we have to focus on.”
More than 1,000 refugees and their host families are invited to today’s game as special guests.
The Association of Ukrainians in Britain (AUGB) has teamed up with the FA to secure the free tickets as a thank you to British families who have opened their doors to refugees.
Bear Grylls, who recently traveled to Ukraine to film a documentary about the war and to interview Volodymyr Zelensky, was also present at the game.
Around 4,200 Ukrainian fans will be cheering for their country when the game kicks off at 5pm.
It is the first time the team has played against England since Euro 2020 when they lost 4-0.
After the war closed Ukrainian airspace, the team had to face a nightmarish 16-hour journey to Wembley for the game.
Some of the 11 starters endured a grueling 11 hour and 45 minute train journey from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to Przemysl in Poland.
This was followed by an 80-kilometer, two-hour bus ride to Rzeszow in south-eastern Poland.
Then followed a two hour and nine minute Ryanair flight to London Stansted before another 70-mile and 90-minute bus ride to the team’s Syon Park Hilton hotel.
Roslan Rotan’s side have been training at Brentford’s base in London since Monday.
The team struggled with a number of other issues – including playing in empty stadiums and being interrupted by air raid sirens.
But Rotan insists that all challenges are eclipsed by their “defenders and warriors” who face the Russian invaders on the front lines.
Tonight’s game comes just over a year after Vladimir Putin stunned the world by sending troops across the border.
His brutal invasion resulted in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians being displaced as the war raged on.
An FA spokesman said ahead of the game: “The opportunity is an opportunity to show solidarity with the Three Lions’ opponents.
“Since last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine, the footballing world has grown together and Sunday’s game will welcome some of those displaced from their own country.
“Both groups of players will come together before kick-off to send a message of peace.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7722063/harry-kane-england-honour-ukraine-euro-2024/ England and Ukraine urge peace in front of jubilant Wembley Stadium as allies go head-to-head in the euro battle