ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO has revealed the true extent of the injury hell which caused his Chelsea nightmare.
The Ukrainian icon arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006 in a £30.8million deal but never lived up to expectations, scoring just 22 goals across two years.
Injuries plagued his time at Blues and his new book, My Life, My Football, reveals how his body all but broke down.
Shevchenko, 47, details how he arrived with an issue following the 2006 World Cup in Germany and things never got better with two hernia operations and a back injury.
He said: “I would like people to understand my difficulties were due to physical issues.
“The fans were great with me but sadly I never managed to show them my best. I was afraid I was going to have to retire from football.
“I felt bad for the people and the club. I’d have given the world to return the affection they were showing me. Instead, I was broken.”
Shevchenko’s problems began before he even joined Chelsea.
In Ukraine’s 3-0 World Cup quarter-final defeat to eventual champions Italy, Shevchenko suffered a knee injury.
His hasty recovery left him tired at the start of his Blues career.
He said: “I did my best and gave my all: that was just my way. Still, I knew my motor wasn’t running as it ought to.
“The newspapers criticised me heavily but only I knew the real problem: that accursed fatigue that had never lifted.”
Things improved in early 2007. Chelsea won the League Cup but Shevchenko discovered a hernia.
He played through the pain but missed the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool and the FA Cup final against Manchester United before having a summer op.
He revealed: “During the operation, something didn’t go to plan. I didn’t get back to what I was before.”
Shevchenko went into the next season still not right and in a 4-4 Boxing Day draw with Aston Villa — during which he scored twice — the failed surgery caused a herniated disc in his back.
He added: “I lost all my strength. I was in a rich vein of form — the worst possible moment to suffer an injury.”
Shevchenko worked his way back to fitness but said: “I was barely a shadow of the player I used to be.”
The season ended in more despair, forced to watch the 2008 Champions League final defeat to Manchester United from the bench and then discovering on a US trip his hernia had returned and required more surgery.
The striker limped through pre-season but conceded defeat, requesting a move back to AC Milan to end his Blues time.
- MY LIFE, MY FOOTBALL by Andriy Shevchenko is available from https://backpagepress.co.uk/books/my-life-my-football