Anatoliy Trubin should be enjoying life as a professional footballer. Instead, the 20-year-old is doing his part to help Ukraine survive the Russian invasion.
The Shakhtar Donetsk goalkeeper, who has also played for the national team, was living in the city of Lutsk, western Ukraine, as he spoke to CNN about life in his war-torn country.
Lutsk has been the target of Russian missile strikes over the past month and Trubin has been left heartbroken by the devastation he’s seen across his homeland.
“I don’t understand how it is possible in 2022 and for me it’s like a nightmare and it’s really scary for everyone in Ukraine,” Trubin told CNN Sport’s Patrick Snell.
The Ukrainian domestic league was suspended amid the fighting, leaving players like Trubin free to help in the relief effort.
He says his Donetsk teammates have set about raising money for those victims of the war and Trubin wants to use his platform to send messages of hope to those faced with the brutal reality of war.
“A lot of players are helping our country and of course I’ll do the same. It’s important for our military and our country,” he said.
“We have a lot of messages on our social media so we try to connect together and we put our powers and collective minds for different things.
“We try to buy [things] and send them to different cities. It’s very difficult but it’s very important for our people.”
Trubin is one of a number of Ukrainian sports stars that have either remained in or returned to Ukraine to help out during the war.
Former boxers Wladimir and Vitaly Klitschko – the latter of who is currently the mayor of Kyiv – and current world heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk all joined the Ukrainian forces, as did MMA world champion Yaroslav Amosov and former tennis star Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Usyk has now left Ukraine, posting a message on Instagram on March 25 saying he had “decided to start preparing for a rematch with Anthony Joshua.” A date and location has yet to decided for the bout.
Trubin explains why so many of his fellow countrymen felt compelled to aid in the efforts.
“Our spirit is one of the strongest,” he says of Ukrainians. “This part of our spirit, no one can take out of our body. We try to give everything.
“My heart is bleeding. A lot of people, a lot of children, are killed and I don’t understand this. Putin is a killer and I don’t understand how it is possible.”
Trubin spoke to CNN on March 24, just over a week before shocking atrocities in Ukraine, allegedly at the hands of Russian forces, amplified calls to pursue war crimes charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Images of at least 20 bodies strewn across the street in Bucha, Ukraine, emerged over the weekend following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area, prompting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to call for an end to Russian “war crimes.”
And Trubin says he has a message for those waging war on his homeland.
“We will win this war and our country will be stronger, more beautiful and one of the best in the world,” he says stoically. “Everything will be okay.
“It’s why we keep fit and continue training. We want to move abroad to have a place where we can train better.”
Ukraine was involved in last week’s World Cup draw in Doha, Qatar.
If Ukraine is to take part in the World Cup it must first beat Scotland and then Wales.
The playoff game against Scotland was initially scheduled to take place on March 24 but was postponed by FIFA to June following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A date for the rescheduled qualifier is yet to be announced by FIFA.