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Interview

Igor Jovicevic on resilience

The Shakhtar coach reflects on an emotional campaign with the Ukrainian champions, dealing with the pressures of war and a sense of added responsibility on the pitch in their adopted ‘home’ city of Warsaw

INTERVIEW Elvir Islamović

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“The day before that Real match I decided not to say anything about tactics, I just gave a speech from the bottom of my heart. I told them what the game plan was the next day, right before going out onto the pitch.

“In Warsaw, and in Poland as a whole, the local population have generally accepted the Ukrainian people as their own: I think over three million Ukrainians are in Poland. They have welcomed us as a club in a similar manner. We’ve been given everything we need with regards to training. Legia Warszawa have opened their doors and welcomed us to their training centre, which is fantastic – one of the best in Europe. I can only thank them for that. The stadium and infrastructure make you feel comfortable and allow you to really focus on your football here – as much as you can, anyway.

“Everybody who has seen our matches will have noticed that there have been a lot of people in the stadium; we could feel their support. It’s a lot easier to play in front of a full house than when there’s nobody in the stands, like in the Ukrainian league where you don’t get any emotion coming from the tribunes. There you’re playing as if it were a training game. It’s a different sport when you’re playing with the fans compared to playing without them. You feel alive and, to put it simply, you can offer more than you could otherwise. It’s what you live for. You live for fans in the stands when you’re playing important matches. You can draw from them some sort of energy and that makes you proud.

“Of course, we also have a responsibility to those who aren’t here, to those back in Ukraine; we need to represent them. All the players feel this sense of duty. Everyone at Shakhtar is trying to make it possible – through their performances – for people who are fighting for the freedom of us all to identify with our endeavours on the pitch.

“If it wasn’t for the soldiers and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who are fighting ever so boldly, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love the most. And, by extension, we wouldn’t be able to represent Ukraine on the biggest football stage of all: the Champions League.

“The least they can expect to see in return is fight in our performances, from the first minute to the last. If we do that then I think the soldiers can be proud when the match ends. They can tell themselves that the players gave everything they had, irrespective of the result.”

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

Igor Jovicevic on resilience
Interview

Igor Jovicevic on resilience

The Shakhtar coach reflects on an emotional campaign with the Ukrainian champions, dealing with the pressures of war and a sense of added responsibility on the pitch in their adopted ‘home’ city of Warsaw

INTERVIEW Elvir Islamović

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“The day before that Real match I decided not to say anything about tactics, I just gave a speech from the bottom of my heart. I told them what the game plan was the next day, right before going out onto the pitch.

“In Warsaw, and in Poland as a whole, the local population have generally accepted the Ukrainian people as their own: I think over three million Ukrainians are in Poland. They have welcomed us as a club in a similar manner. We’ve been given everything we need with regards to training. Legia Warszawa have opened their doors and welcomed us to their training centre, which is fantastic – one of the best in Europe. I can only thank them for that. The stadium and infrastructure make you feel comfortable and allow you to really focus on your football here – as much as you can, anyway.

“Everybody who has seen our matches will have noticed that there have been a lot of people in the stadium; we could feel their support. It’s a lot easier to play in front of a full house than when there’s nobody in the stands, like in the Ukrainian league where you don’t get any emotion coming from the tribunes. There you’re playing as if it were a training game. It’s a different sport when you’re playing with the fans compared to playing without them. You feel alive and, to put it simply, you can offer more than you could otherwise. It’s what you live for. You live for fans in the stands when you’re playing important matches. You can draw from them some sort of energy and that makes you proud.

“Of course, we also have a responsibility to those who aren’t here, to those back in Ukraine; we need to represent them. All the players feel this sense of duty. Everyone at Shakhtar is trying to make it possible – through their performances – for people who are fighting for the freedom of us all to identify with our endeavours on the pitch.

“If it wasn’t for the soldiers and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who are fighting ever so boldly, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love the most. And, by extension, we wouldn’t be able to represent Ukraine on the biggest football stage of all: the Champions League.

“The least they can expect to see in return is fight in our performances, from the first minute to the last. If we do that then I think the soldiers can be proud when the match ends. They can tell themselves that the players gave everything they had, irrespective of the result.”

“It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of anxiety and it makes your day-to-day harder. Before the Celtic game [on Matchday 2] we had a tactical session; while we were in the gym, preparing to go out onto the training pitch, the air-raid sirens went off. We were forced to stay inside. You know that preparations for a match are not the same for you as your opponents, but what can you do? Should you just head out to the pitch anyway? Will something happen? Rockets are hitting Ukraine from everywhere and the sirens have gone off; you’re advised to seek shelter, so that’s it. You just have to live with it, even if it isn’t easy.

“On the eve of our meeting with Real Madrid in Warsaw [on Matchday 4], the same thing happened. There was an aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine and instead of having a nice training session focused on Real, you’re all left wondering where your loved ones are. Are they in a shelter or not? Have they survived? Matches like these – against the holders – they should stay with you forever, the dream of all dreams. They allow you to prove yourself as an individual, as a team. Yet many of our families have stayed in Ukraine while we’re here, so there is always a part of you that is focused on what’s happening in Ukraine.

“Thinking simultaneously about where everyone’s emotions are and the tactical set-up for a match is extremely challenging. I am a human being first and foremost. I really empathise with the players; I can sense how they’re feeling. You can’t carry out a tactical session if you’re down and have no emotions.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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