During an event at Warsaw’s Stadion Narodowy on Tuesday, the two famous forwards hugged as Shevchenko tied the blue and yellow armband to Lewandowski’s arm.

“I am very proud because I know what it means to support the Ukrainian people,” Lewandowski said.

“I know what it means to fight for freedom, we know the history, our history and that’s why it was clear to help our neighbors, to help the Ukrainian people and I am very proud to wear this armband and to be on this I am very happy and very grateful for everything.

As neighboring countries, there are strong ties and a shared history between Ukraine and Poland, which has hosted more than one million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion since February, according to UNHCR.

Lewandowski has long been a supporter of Ukraine, calling on Poland to boycott their World Cup qualifier against Russia just days after the start of the war.

When playing for Bayern Munich, the Polish captain wore a Ukrainian armband while his teammates wore black armbands to commemorate those killed in the war.

“First of all, I want to thank Robert for everything he does for my country,” Shevchenko said. “And I give him this armband: this armband represents pride, power, a certain attachment to Ukraine.”

Football has taken on increased importance in Ukraine in recent months.

The Ukrainian Premier League restarted last month for the first time since the invasion of Russia in February under the shadow of the sirens of air raids – a match held in Lviv was interrupted four times allowing players to take shelter in a bunker – while the Ukrainian national team were thanked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for “two hours of happiness” after beating Scotland to reach the final of the World Cup qualifiers.

“I think as athletes we have a very strong voice to tell people the truth, to stay aware of what is happening in Ukraine and to tell the truth about it,” Shevchenko added.

"Please don't forget us"  says Ukrainian soccer legend Andriy Shevchenko about the ongoing war effort
Along with tennis star Elina Svitolina, Shevchenko acted as an ambassador for UNITED24, an organization created by Zelensky to direct nearly $186 million in donations to the war effort.

“I know that when I wear this armband for the first time,” Lewandowski said, “if some people heard about what I did, for me it will also be an incredible feeling, an incredible moment because I know this sport – also people watch, for example, football and different sports as well – and if they know what is going on it will be easier to understand the situation.”

Lewandowski will next take to the pitch with Poland on Thursday night in a Nations League game against the Netherlands.

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