Andriy Yarmolenko says felt 'guilty' about his family during compassionate leave 3 months ago

Andriy Yarmolenko says felt 'guilty' about his family during compassionate leave

'It is honestly scary to talk about it'

West Ham United winger and Ukrainian international Andriy Yarmolenko has opened up on his emotions while he was on compassionate leave earlier this month.

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Yarmolenko was granted special leave by manager David Moyes and the club in response to Russia's invasion of his homeland, something which he said left him going "crazy" by thinking about it.

The 32-year-old returned from leave to score against Aston Villa before bagging the winner against Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 knockouts, which led to a touching embrace with his teammates.

'I was just going crazy and you need to be distracted'

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Andriy Yarmolenko leave

During an interview on Ukrainian YouTube channel Football 1/2/3, an emotional Yarmolenko revealed the difficulties he faced while on compassionate leave.

"David Moyes told me I could choose to train or not and that I had to do everything I could to ensure the safety of my family," he said.

"I needed to remain professional so I returned. I was just going crazy and you need to be distracted. But even now, I don’t know what the other results are. It is just training ends and then the phone calls home.

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"It is honestly scary to talk about it. We have to help each other. If we do not then no one will.

"I am sure we will not be beaten by any country. No one will ever be able to break our spirit."

'I just wanted to run and hit my head against a wall'

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Yarmolenko also revealed that he was left feeling guilty after his family - who he has since been reunited with - were stranded in Kyiv on the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

"When it all started, on February 24, I arrived at training and couldn’t even talk," he recalled.

"I had tears flowing. I asked the coach to let me go home.

"I didn’t believe this could happen. I sent my family to Kyiv because my child had to have a doctor’s appointment.

"Can you imagine what I was like when it started the next morning? I just wanted to run and hit my head against a wall. What a fool I was sending my family to Kyiv and I am sitting in London."

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The West Ham forward added that the members of his family who have been unable to escape Ukraine are safe and hiding from the constant shelling.

He added: "All the relatives are alive and well. My cousins help keep in touch with uncles, aunts.

"The ones there, where there is constant shelling going on, they are in bomb shelters, hiding in basements."

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