Ukrainian footballer Alan Aussi will play for Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s benefit game against his parent club Dynamo Kyiv, but admits his thoughts are often with friends affected by the war with Russia.
“Two of my best friends are on the front line. I contact them daily to see if they are still alive,” said the centre-back, who fled Ukraine after Russia invaded his home country in February.
“It’s difficult for me and their families because every day could be their last.”
The 20-year-old defender played for Dynamo’s under-19 and under-21 teams, but since fleeing Ukraine, Aussi has trained with Dortmund’s under-23 side.
He will play for the Dortmund senior team against parent club Dynamo in the friendly, the proceeds of which will go to organisations providing emergency care in Ukraine.
Around 25,000 tickets have been sold, but holders of a Ukraine passport have free admission.
FIFA-level referee Denys Schurman, who also fled Ukraine and is now living with his family in Hamburg, will officiate the first half.
Aussi often checks his phone for news from back home.
“And I’m safe here, playing football. I was very lucky.”
He finds it difficult to think about football, but says the proceeds from Tuesday’s match will help back home.
“It’s a very special moment. It’s difficult to concentrate on football. But I’m a professional and I’ll go out and do my best,” he said.
“With this game, we are helping Ukraine.
“It’s important that we can raise as much money as possible.
“Many people need the money, they have no home and nothing to eat.”
Dortmund quickly agreed to host Dynamo, who have also recently played against Galatasaray, Legia Warsaw and Romanian side Cluj, with a game against Dinamo Zagreb also planned for Thursday.
“We all sympathise and are deeply shocked,” said Dortmund head coach Marco Rose.
“We have little understanding of what war actually means and what is happening in Ukraine right now. It’s a humanitarian catastrophe.”