Kelsey said signing a five-year contract with a club in a country at war was a surprisingly easy decision. The prospect of realizing the dream of reaching Europe trumps everything else, even the constant threat of Russian missiles and planes, the periodic blaring of air raid sirens and distant explosions. But his family had their doubts.
“I spoke to them and they asked, ‘Why Ukraine?'” he said in an interview in Spanish. “There was a little bit of nervousness and a little bit of fear because they knew all about what had happened. is very important to me, and in the end they understood.”
Kelsey, like many South American players who have signed for Ukrainian clubs in the past, sees the club as a stepping stone on a journey that could one day lead him to his dream club, AC Milan. He knows that matches in elite competitions like the Champions League are an elite arena to show he belongs. (Shakhtar are on track to return to competition next season after leading the Ukrainian league into the weekend.)
Shakhtar CEO Parkin, who lost many players, is now insisting that new recruits sign contracts containing clauses that prevent them from taking advantage of FIFA’s rules allowing for sudden departures. He said all the players who are signing now definitely understand what they are working on.
But the pull of professional success in Europe is so strong, Kelsey said not even war can stop him. “I try not to think about it and focus on what’s important now,” he said.