A day of football and music at Stamford Bridge helped raise funds to rebuild a school badly damaged by the war in Ukraine, while providing great entertainment for more than 30,000 people in attendance in SW6.
The day started on an emotional note, as all the players from both teams lined up arm-in-arm on the halfway line for the national anthems of Ukraine and Great Britain as well as a video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, thanking everyone for their support and explaining the worthy cause the day was raising money for, before a minute’s silence was held in memory of all those who have lost their lives in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
A large number of former Chelsea players turned out to do their bit by playing for Andriy Shevchenko’s Team Blue, which was also managed by Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes, in an entertaining and nostalgic match involving some of the greatest footballers of the modern era.
There were even current Ukraine internationals doing their bit, Oleksander Zinchenko and Mykhailo Mudryk making short cameos with every touch being cheered like a goal, and the duo spending the half-time break walking around the pitch to sign autographs and take photos with the fans.
It was an extended 45-minute half-time, with live performances by Pete Doherty, Boombox and Tom Walker from a specially created stage inside Stamford Bridge, and the music continued after the final whistle, thanks to Tom Grennan and The Pretenders.
But it was the football which was undoubtedly the star of the show and a Chelsea legend who soon emerged as one of the most impressive of the former pros, as Petr Cech began a series of excellent saves to show he had lost none of his reflexes since hanging up his gloves.
The honour of kicking off fell to Chelsea striker and Ukraine legend Andriy Shevchenko, to loud cheers from around the stadium. Throughout the biggest support was reserved for the Ukrainian members of the teams, especially Shevchenko, Zinchenko and Mudryk, although the Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge made themselves heard whenever one of the large Blues contingent got involved.
The crowd were denied the Ukrainian name on the scoresheet they craved, as Zinchenko and Shevchenko were kept out by fine saves from Cech and Jens Lehmann, while Mudryk’s last involvement was a wickedly dipping strike which came back off the crossbar.
However, there were still goals to celebrate. Mark Noble finally beat Cech from close range to put the Yellows ahead, before Clarence Seedorf raised the roof by smashing a long-range equaliser into the top corner. The scoring continued in the second half, when the Yellows took the lead after Darijo Srna turned in Wilshere’s cutback at the end of a flowing counter-attack.
The Chelsea supporters had their chance to celebrate, too, when former defender William Gallas reacted quickest in the box following a scramble to slot in for the Blues and make it 2-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining. That was the way it stayed, with a respectable draw ensuring everyone could leave the pitch happy.
However, whatever was happening on the pitch, there was a real party atmosphere inside the Bridge throughout, with the cheers and Mexican waves interspersed with loud chants of ‘Ukraine’.
At the end of the day, the event was all about raising money to allow the children of Ukraine to resume their education in a safe and stable environment, while football and music fans from around the world gathered to show their support for the people of Ukraine who continue to suffer due to the ongoing conflict in the country.
You can still do your part and make a donation to the Game4Ukraine fund and help rebuild a school in Chernihiv Oblast.
Thank you on behalf of Chelsea and Game4Ukraine to everyone who has made a donation to this worthy cause so far, and especially all of you who came down to Stamford Bridge to support it in person and provide such a fantastic atmosphere on the day.