Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Ukrainian striker seeking cup glory


Andriy Shevchenko vs. Alessandro Del Piero is likely to be one of the key contests in the larger match between AC Milan and Juventus for the Champions Cup.

The manner in which the two strikers were approaching last night's match here at Old Trafford offers some insight into which star player is more desperate to win, often a determining factor in games of this level.

Del Piero is accustomed to soccer celebrations. Just a few weeks ago, he and Juventus teammates celebrated wildly when they captured a record 27th Italian league title. He won a Champions Cup in 1996, and the Juve captain has also played in numerous big matches for the Italian national team -- albeit without winning any major trophies.

Contrast with Shevchenko, who has never had the chance to play for his native Ukraine in the European championships or World Cup. The Ukraine, where "Sheva" is a national hero, has not qualified for either competition.

Last night's match may represent Shevchenko's only opportunity to grasp greatness in front of a worldwide audience. Sheva made sure not to miss out on the opportunity by scoring the decisive goal in the semifinals against city rival Inter Milan.

"Finally I can play not a game, but the game," Shevchenko said. "Something I'll always remember and look back on and just be happy to have played.

"This can be my match. I'm not afraid. These are the games that you play in your head your entire life. This can be our game. I know because I see how hard we've been working."

Del Piero, whose personality is usually reserved, sounded like a player who already has a hand on greatness.

"Honestly, I don't have to score to be happy," he said. "The most important thing is that we win."

ESPN will show a repeat of the match at 8:30pm.

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