Shakhtar Donetsk chief Darijo Srna thanks Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis for Ukraine support amid Russia invasion

SHAKHTAR DONETSK director of football Darijo Srna praised Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis for his support amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shakhtar played their first game in almost two months as they faced the Greek champions in a friendly match, which was organised in just 42 hours, at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Saturday.

The charity match was put together to raise awareness for Ukraine's plight and gather funds for those affected by the bloody war.

And Srna paid tribute to Marinakis' support as the club's bigwig offered to host the entire team in Greece for two months and cover all the costs himself.

The former Croatia international insists the Greek Forest owner has also earned his respect by refusing to take advantage of the situation.

FIFA allowed clubs to approach foreign players competing in Russia as well as Ukraine and sign them for free until the end of the season, but Olympiacos didn't participate.

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Srna told SunSport: “He [Marinakis] gave his money to Ukraine to help the children, to help the people there. [I have] respect for the owner of Olympiacos.

“Even now he proposed to us to stay here [for] two months, he will pay everything. He’s really the [kind of] guy that isn’t using this situation because a lot of presidents [and] a lot of agents are using situations of the war to receive players for free. Thank you so much to him from our club.”

Olympiacos won 1-0 thanks to Tiquinho's winner on 22 minutes, but the scoreline was the least of everyone's concern.

Srna insists he is "always proud" of his team, who showed up despite their lack of match fitness.

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The former right-back paid special tribute to Dmytro Myshnyov, who is the captain of Mariupol and joined up with Shakhtar despite recently losing his house to the war.

Srna added: “I’m always proud of my team, of our team. I spoke to the owner of Olympiacos and his son [Miltiadis] two days ago and we had an agreement to play a friendly game.

“When I asked them if they are ready to play on Saturday they said: ‘Darijo, we are Ukrainians. We are ready for everything.’

“For example, today we played Myshnyov, who is captain of Mariupol, and he no longer has his house, his apartment, his car. And we took him here to play for us because he’s a symbol of Mariupol and we are really proud of that because we are all in a difficult situation.”

Shakhtar are set for a tour in Europe and the US, which kicks off on April 13 in Turkey with matches against Besiktas and Fenerbahce before flying to Poland to face Lech Poznan.

The Donetsk giants will then go to the US to mix things up with New York FC and David Beckham's Inter Miami before visiting Canada to play with Toronto FC.

Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Benfica are next in France, England and Portugal respectively.

Srna hopes that will help Ukraine's cause by convincing the world to offer the country some significant help.

Srna said: “They [the world] must understand that it is not enough to speak. They must help.

"They must stop the aggression in Ukraine. They must do everything to stop because Ukraine is not at war for 44 days, it has been at war for eight years. And we are losing a lot.

“We need the world to stand behind us, to make something concrete. Not just to speak, because they must help Ukraine. Step by step, I think that everyone will understand.

“It’s not the same to stay somewhere 20,000km from Ukraine and speaking about the war. Go there, go to Mariupol, go to Bucha and you will change your opinion.

“I hope that the world will not sleep and wake up as soon as possible and do everything that’s necessary to stop the war.”

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