Donny van de Beek is one of many at Everton to show their support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s horrific invasion, which his displaced millions from their homes
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Everton and Ukraine defender Vitaliy Mykolenko admits he has been deeply moved by the touching gestures of his colleagues amid the war raging in his homeland, including a generous offer from teammate Donny van de Beek.
The 22-year-old has been “pleasantly shocked” by the willingness of those around him at Goodison Park to house Ukrainian refugees or offer him personal support. The United Nations estimates that at least four million people have fled their homes since Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade their neighboring country in late February.
The Premier League has shown its solidarity with Ukraine by holding moments of reflection ahead of kick-off and handing captains special blue and yellow armbands. Meanwhile, Mykolenko shared a moving embrace with compatriot Oleksandr Zinchecko ahead of a fixture against Manchester City two days after the invasion.
The left-back, who joined Everton from Dynamo Kyiv during the January transfer window, was also named skipper for the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Boreham Wood in early March. Behind the scenes, Mykolenko has been receiving support from his colleagues, with many opening their homes to him or offering to help accommodate refugees. He told Kyiv-based outlet UA Tribuna : “Everyone came up and asked how my family was, my friends. On the second day the head coach came up and said: ‘if you need a rest…if you need time, take your time .’
“I am grateful to the club for its support from all sides. The administrator in charge of the equipment said: ‘I know what your situation is. I understand how difficult it is for you. Come to us for dinner, let’s talk.’ A physiotherapist came up and said: ‘I have a room, a bed for two people. Those who have nowhere to live, we are ready to shelter them.’ I am pleasantly shocked. Honestly I’m shocked.”
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Mykolenko was also blown away after Van de Beek, who was on loan from Manchester United, told him he would rent a house on the continent for those who have fled the war. He added: “Donny van de Beek, a world-class player, approaches me and says, ‘I want to rent a house for people, whether in the Netherlands or in Poland. We will take them from the border, settle them, pay for it.’ I don’t know how to thank these people.”
Mykolenko has earned 21 caps for Ukraine and could make his seventh appearance for Everton as they travel to West Ham on Sunday. The Toffees sit 17th in the table, three points ahead of the relegation zone with two games in hand on 18th-placed Watford.