Who are the best Ukrainian Premier League players ever?

Out of all the former Soviet states to emerge at the start of the 1990s, very few have produced high-quality players quite like Ukraine. The Eastern European powerhouse has constantly churned out players who have become known for sublime technical skills and a powerful presence on the pitch. This has led to some of their best stars shining in top European leagues including the English Premier League. Since the Premier League started, 8 Ukrainian players have featured in the English top flight. But how have they fared in one of the most competitive leagues in the world?

 

Alex Evtushok (Coventry City)

Most people will know about Ukraine’s first Premier League star – Alex Evtushok. Evtushok was a utility player who could play in both defence and midfield and this versatility was what caught the eye of Coventry City in 1996. After impressing with Ukrainian side Dnipro, Evtushol moved to Coventry but struggled to make any real headway making just 3 appearances in the 1996/97 season. With very little game time at Highfield Road, the Ukrainian defender departed at the end of season moving back to former side Karpaty Lviv ending a very brief stay in English football.

 

Oleg Luzhny (Arsenal, Wolves)

Many players may not remember Oleg Luzhny however the powerful defender enjoyed a successful stint in English football. After a decade with Dynamo Kiev, Luzhny moved to Arsenal in 1999 to provide cover for the ageing Lee Dixon. Luzhny’s powerful presence on the ball and deceptively quick pace made him a surprising asset on the right hand side of defence. It was why Luzhny grew to be part of an Arsenal team regularly challenging for trophies and even picked up a winner’s medal with the Gunners when they claimed the 2001/02 title. After Luzhny left The Gunners in 2003, he joined Wolves as they earned promotion but made limited appearances before leaving Molineux at the end of the 2003/04 season. An unsung hero who became the first Ukrainian to win the top prize in English football.

 

Sergey Rebrov (Tottenham)

Sergey Rebrov’s reputation preceded him on arrival to North London having smashed goals season after season for Dynamo Kiev. Spurs deployed Rebrov mostly on the wing but it didn’t stop him lashing in 9 goals in his debut season in 2000/01 showcasing his ability. However, it hindered his long-term potential netting just once the following season at White Hart Lane. Seeing his opportunities limited, Rebrov left for Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2002 ending a rather short stint in English football.

 

Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)

When Andriy Shevchenko joined Chelsea in 2006 from AC Milan, the legendary striker was expected to destroy defences across England. Yet, the then-world record transfer didn’t quite go to plan. Despite retaining his sublime finishing instincts, Shevchenko struggled to adapt to the physicality of the English game. This meant that the legendary striker only netted 9 goals in two seasons for The Blues – hardly living up to his reputation on the continent. After his second season, Shevchenko moved back to Milan on loan for two seasons before moving back to the Ukraine to play for Dynamo Kiev. A wasted opportunity for one of the best strikers of the 2000s.

 

Andrei Voronin (Liverpool)

Best known for his bright blonde ponytail, few people remember Andrei Voronin’s two-year stint in English football with Liverpool. Mostly limited to substitute appearances, the striker used his guile and presence in the air to torment defences. His first season in 2007/08 saw him net 5 goals in 18 games before he went on loan to Hertha Berlin for a season. After one year in Germany, Voronin made a few appearances for Liverpool the following season without much luck. From there, he left English football for good joining Dynamo Moscow in 2010.

 

Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham)

One of Ukraine’s biggest stars of the 2010s, Andriy Yarmolenko moved to English football with a reputation as a pacey winger with ounces of attacking flair. Yarmolenko’s pace and creativity has fared him relatively well in English football and scored 5 goals in 23 games in his first full season in English football. However, injuries and a lack of goals has prevented the winger recreating the same success he enjoyed for the national side limiting playing time with The Hammers.

 

Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City)

Despite being labelled as a full-back, Oleksandr has proven himself to be just as comfortable playing as an attacker. A player who can be dispatched on either flank, Zinchenko’s blistering pace and sumptuous passing abilities has seen him become a regular presence for Manchester City. Despite not scoring in English football, Zinchenko’s consistency has earned him plenty of plaudits with The Citizens. This has included claiming the 2019 Ukrainian Footballer of the Year Award and no less than 3x Premier League winner’s medals in his growing career. It is plaudits for one of Ukraine’s brightest stars in modern football today.

 

Vitali Mykolenko (Everton)

Despite having only joined Everton in January 2022, Vitali Mykolenko is already adapting well to English football. The hard-charging left-back has used his pace and skill to try and help The Toffees rebuild their squad after several seasons of turbulence behind the scenes. It’s this wide range of skills that could see Mykolenko enjoy a long career in English football whether it’s at Goodison Park or anywhere else in the Premier League.

Author: Lucas Carlson