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Andriy Shevchenko's seven greatest career moments

By Michael Yokhin

Andriy Shevchenko, one of the best strikers of his generation, announced late on Friday night that he is retiring as a professional football player.

The 35-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful career, particularly with Dinamo Kiev and AC Milan, amassing 299 goals for the two clubs combined. In June, he reached his pinnacle in international football when he guided Ukraine, co-hosts of Euro 2012, to a stunning win over Sweden in Kiev by scoring a brace.

Shevchenko also lifted the Ballon d'Or in 2004 to add to the 19 trophies he won at club level from Ukraine to Italy to England. He has enjoyed an illustrious career since making his debut for Dynamo Kiev back in 1994 and takes a look back at some of his greatest moments.

1. The glorious hat-trick at Camp Nou

It was the first time all of Europe sat up and took notice of the phenomenal talent that was Shevchenko.

Granted, it wasn’t the greatest Barcelona side – quite the contrary. It took Louis van Gaal time to rebuild the team in his first season in 1997-98, and they finished bottom of their group in the Champions League.

Still, bagging a first half hat-trick at the famous stadium was an amazing moment for the then 21-year-old Shevchenko. The first two were headers, although both were mostly due to terrible errors by Vitor Baia, whose Barca career was unsurprisingly finished there and then.

The third was a penalty en route to a classic 4-0 win. Dinamo Kiev were stopped by Juventus in the quarter-finals that season, but next year they went one better, qualifying for the semi-finals, with Sheva scoring 10 times in Europe in his farewell home campaign.

2. The drama at Luzhniki

This wasn’t the greatest of efforts, not by a long shot, but it entered the history books immediately and became an all-time classic.

On a cold October night in Moscow in 1999, Russia hosted Ukraine in the crucial final game of the Euro 2000 qualifiers. Both needed to win to top the group and qualify directly for the tournament. The Russians pressed for most of the match, looking for a seventh successive win, and were rewarded when Valery Karpin scored a screamer.

Three minutes from time, Sheva took a rather tame free kick from the left. Hapless keeper Aleksandr Filimonov dropped it into the net, and the 1-1 draw sent Oleg Romantsev's team crashing out, with France qualifying instead.

Ukraine finished second thanks to that slice of luck, but sadly for Shevchenko they lost to Slovenia in the play-offs, and were forced to wait 12 long years for their maiden appearance in the European Championship finals.

3. That goal against Juventus

After moving to AC Milan in 1999, Sheva instantly became one of the most feared strikers in Serie A, scoring 24 goals in his debut season, and repeating the feat in 2000-01.

The most beautiful strike, and arguably Shevchenko’s best, came in December 2001, when he single-handedly made a mockery of Edgar Davids, Ciro Ferrara, Paolo Montero and Gianluca Pessotto, before sending a missile into the far top corner above Gianluigi Buffon.

This was a perfect present for Carlo Ancelotti’s first game on the Milan bench after being sacked by Juve. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, though, but Sheva's strike was a welcome highlight in what became a rather disappointing season for the Rossoneri.

4. Beating Inter in the Champions League

Shevchenko is the all-time top scorer in the Derby della Madonnina, with 14 goals (not to mention the 15th scored against Inter in a Dinamo Kiev shirt).

One of them was particularly crucial, as the Ukrainian was responsible for a glorious away goal versus the city rivals in the 2003 Champions League semi-final. Receiving the ball in the penalty area, Sheva waltzed past Ivan Cordoba with his first touch, and put the ball beyond Francesco Toldo with his second.

Obafemi Martins scored the equaliser for the Nerazzurri, but it proved academic – Shevchenko did enough to send Milan into the final.

5. The decisive penalty at Old Trafford

That 2003 all-Italian final turned out to be quite a drab affair, but it didn’t really matter to Sheva, who was the hero despite a rather mediocre performance against Juventus in Manchester.

With more penalties missed than scored in the shoot-out, the pressure was immense ahead of the last kick, and the Ukrainian kept his cool to slot the ball past Buffon. After lifting the trophy, he took it to Valery Lobanovsky’s grave to tell his beloved mentor, who died a year before, about the great achievement.

6. Peerless in 2004

That was quite a year for Sheva! In his very top form, he finally led Milan to their only Scudetto during his eight seasons at San Siro, including scoring with a header of outrageous quality in the title decider against Roma in the beginning of May.

For the third time in his career, Shevchenko finished the Serie A season with 24 goals. His outstanding play was rewarded with the Ballon d'Or crown, even though he didn’t play at Euro 2004.

After Oleg Blokhin in 1975 and Igor Belanov in 1986, Sheva is the third Ukrainian to be voted Europe’s top footballer, and the only one since the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

7. The magical night in Kiev

He waited for this moment for five long years. He wasn’t supposed to start; he squandered the only chance in a rather poor first half; he was screaming with pain after being hit hard on his knee. And at times, he looked frustrated.

But in the end it was a night of glory for Shevchenko, as he netted two sumptuous headers to give Ukraine their maiden European Championship win in their first-ever game in the tournament. Blokhin said he had a dream of Sheva scoring a brace in the match against the Swedes, but Andriy himself didn’t believe it was possible.

In the end, the dream came true.