Roberto De Zerbi 2021-22Getty Images

'You didn't sleep' - Shakhtar coach De Zerbi reveals harrowing Ukraine escape during Russian attack

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Roberto De Zerbi is back in his native Italy after a harrowing journey out of war-torn Ukraine, and he has described the desperate situation he and his players faced following Russia's recent military invasion.

The ex-Palermo, Benevento and Sassuolo boss found himself in Kyiv as Russian troops advanced on the capital.

He spent 24 hours huddled in a bunker in the basement of a hotel until finally managing to get out of the city and cross the border to safety.

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What was said?

"[My time in the Kyiv attack] lasted 24 hours, but they passed very very slowly because you didn't sleep, at night you could hear everything," De Zerbi, who is now back in Italy along with the rest of his coaching staff, explained to Radio 105.

"There were those who slept in the bunker [of the hotel] and those in the rooms. I slept in the room to understand what was happening outside the hotel, when I heard a roar would go into the bunker. Then I would go back to my room after a few hours.

"We are back at home thanks to the commitment of the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin who showed great humanity, incredible sensitivity, he organised everything down to the smallest detail and even the embassy treated us well."

As well as De Zerbi, Dynamo Kyiv coach Paulo Fonseca was also able to cross the border into Romania, after a 30-hour coach trip across the country due to the lack of flights.

'They are defending freedom'

De Zerbi went on to pay tribute to the Ukrainians who have stayed at home to fight Russian troops in Kyiv and across the nation.

"[Ukrainians] are defending freedom and those who defend freedom have an advantage. Of course, the difference in weapons potential shifts everything.

"From what I have seen, they can continue, no one knows for how long. They are really tough: the boxing champion (mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko) began to fight, a young warehouse worker of mine with a young daughter took his rifle ready to fight."

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