1986 Ballon d’Or Winner Igor Belanov Picks Up Arms To Defend Ukraine Against Russia

Former Ballon d’Or winner Igor Belanov has become the latest Ukrainian sporting icon to pick up arms in the defence of his country against Russia.

Belanov, 61, won the Ballon d’Or in 1986 and is one of only three Ukrainians to win the coveted award, along with Oleh Blokhin (1975) and Andriy Shevchenko (2004).

The former striker, who played for Chornomorets Odessa, Dynamo Kiev and Borussia Monchengladbach during his playing career, took to Facebook on Monday to express his support for Ukraine’s military.

He posted a series of pictures to his account, which included one of him holding a gun on the front lines in Ukraine and another of him posing for photos with soldiers.

“Amazing courage and inexhaustible fighting spirit,” wrote Belanov.

“All this and much more characterises our soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We are with you!

“Peace to Ukraine, and Glory to everyone who confronts the occupiers who boldly came to destroy our Land and our Free, Heroic People!

“Believing in our quick victory! Glory to Ukraine!”

Belanov won 33 caps for the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1990 and was part of the side that reached the final of Euro 1988, where they lost to the Netherlands.

Two years earlier, he was a surprise winner of the Ballon d’Or after helping Dynamo Kiev win the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Belanov is not the first Ukrainian sports star to take up arms in the defence of his country.

He has joined the likes of Vasiliy Lomachenko, Vitaliy and Wladimir Klitschko, and Oleksandr Usyk – who was recently given permission to leave Ukraine to train for his upcoming fight with Anthony Joshua.

Former Soviet Union international Igor Belanov won the Ballon d'Or win 1986 (Image: PA)
Former Soviet Union international Igor Belanov won the Ballon d’Or win 1986 (Image: PA)

Usyk has admitted he “cannot stop thinking” about the war in Ukraine and says boxing has become “child’s play” in comparison.

“Luckily I did not see much of war. But what I see and what I know from my relatives and my friends is terrible,” he said.

“Some of my friends are missing and we do not know where they are now. Many of my relatives lost their homes, and lost their friends and loved ones.

“Frankly speaking, all that is going on now is quite horrible in Ukraine. Every day I pray for the soonest possible end of this horror.

“In comparison with war, boxing is child’s play.”

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