But after his magical double in Monday’s Group D opener against Sweden, “Sheva” has solidified his status as a national hero.
The 35-year-old striker scored on a pair of headers to propel Ukraine to a spirited come-from-behind 2-1 victory that lifted the co-host’s hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds and sent the yellow-clad fans into a euphoric celebration.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck in the 52nd minute, pouncing on a pass at the eight-yard box and redirecting it home for the opening tally.
But the hosts answered just three minutes later when Shevchenko nodded home a splendid cross from Andriy Yarmolenko for the equalizer.
A draw would have felt like a victory for the home side, but Shevchenko wasn’t ready to settle in the tournament’s most riveting game yet.
Seven minutes after his first goal, Shevchenko again beat his marker in the air to head home a corner at the near post for what proved to be the game-winner.
The victory puts the Ukraine atop the Group D table after France and England drew 1-1 earlier in the day. Furthermore, it validated coach Oleh Blokhin’s to add the veteran striker to his side and start him on Monday night in Kiev.