Taras Stepanenko: "When we played with five defenders, we showed normal results against top teams"

2024-06-24 15:59 Ukraine's midfielder Taras Stepanenko answered journalists' questions at a press conference ahead of the Euro 2024 ... Taras Stepanenko: "When we played with five defenders, we showed normal results against top teams"
24.06.2024, 15:59

Ukraine's midfielder Taras Stepanenko answered journalists' questions at a press conference ahead of the Euro 2024 match against Belgium.

Taras Stepanenko

-How can the Ukrainian national team surprise Belgium? How do you plan to contain Romelu Lukaku?

- We have already started preparing for the game. We understand that there are many good, individually strong players there. Only the right tactical actions can stop this opponent. The match against Slovakia showed that if everyone wants to win and everyone works hard, any team will have problems with us. Everyone is preparing for this final.

- Taras, you said that the players of the Ukrainian national team wake up every day and immediately read the news about what is happening in the country. Doesthis create additional pressure, or did it interfere with the match against Romania? What has changed in the match with Slovakia?

- This war has been affecting Ukrainian players every day for more than two years. Yesterday, the Russians attacked Kharkiv with air bombs, caused destruction, and there are human casualties. You read such news every day. It is not known how much longer this war will continue. All the players have friends and family in Ukraine. We think about our country, our people.

In the game against Romania, I think we were not a united team, but rather individual players. In a tournament like this, only a team can win a trophy, get out of the group, and show results. The match against Slovakia was different, because I saw a team that wanted to win. The match against Belgium is the final for us. It will be a tough game, we are preparing for it with full concentration. I am ready to play and give my best, as are all the players on the team. But the coach will make the decision.

-Taras, what messages do you receive while at the European Championship?

- After the match against Romania, I didn't receive many good messages, which is understandable. But I always get support from my family, especially from my mom and wife. I am not a person who likes to talk a lot. The best message we can send to our people is our actions on the field. We have to demonstrate that we are ready to fight on the field, to show spirit, as we did in the last match.

-Are you ready to play with fivedefenders againstBelgium?

- When we played in this formation, we showed a normal result against the top teams. It's up to the coaching staff to decide. Everyone understands what to do, some of them play this way in their club. But I don't know what the scheme will be with Belgium.

-Taras, who can you single out in the Belgian national team?

- I like Jeremy Doc, he has good dribbling and passing. He has shown a lot in the attack in recent matches. He is a very dangerous player.

-Taras, how would you comment on the words of Rezvan Ratz, your former teammate? Have you been in touch with him?

- I have known him for a long time, I know his jokes, they are very specific. The guys told me about his words. I took it normally. He called me and said that he had been misunderstood, that there was a mistranslation. We joked, and I have a good relationship with him.

On the topic of ending your career. When a person is over 30, everyone starts saying that he is old in football. I don't know where this comes from. I have my own head, I work. Every day we run with sensors that show your physical condition. When you look at their indicators, everything becomes clear, and you can't fool anyone.

People react to the defeat by saying that Stepanenko is old. But I was also 34 when we beat Barcelona, played matches with England and Italy. I don't really understand what has changed. These six months were not very successful for me because of injuries. But no one sees that after every match in the Ukrainian championship I come home and get on the treadmill. This is to ensure that when the coach gives me a chance to play, I stay at the level I should be at.

The most important thing is not what they say, but what you do. I can finish tomorrow, in a year or two. But this is my decision, which I will make when I am ready. Rezvan was joking, but I always get messages about it. Why didn't they write to me after the Barcelona game? It's my inner feeling, and only I will make a decision when I know I can't do something.

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