Sheva thanks Blues fans as he seals Milan return

August 25, 2008

AC Milan have confirmed that Andriy Shevchenko has completed his return to the club after passing a medical at their Milanello training complex.

The Ukraine forward touched down in Italy late on Sunday night after Chelsea agreed terms with the Serie A side on Saturday on a deal to take Shevchenko back to Milan - the club he represented for seven seasons between 1999 and 2006.

The deal was only awaiting a medical but a Milan spokesman confirmed on Monday evening that the 31-year-old had come through it successfully.

Shevchenko endured a difficult two years in London following a big-money transfer from the Rossoneri, finding the net just nine times in two Premier League campaigns.

But after completing his return to the Italian side - where he remains the club's second all-time top goalscorer - the forward was quick to thank the Chelsea followers for their support.

'I'm so very happy to be here,' he told the Milan website. 'At this very special moment for me, I really want to send a message to the Chelsea fans who in the past two years have always made me feel their support.

'A heartfelt thank you for that.'

Shevchenko's delight to be back in Milan has been shared by Rossoneri playing staff and directors alike.

Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf and Kakha Kaladze have all spoken of their glee at the move, while star player Kaka revealed today he was 'extra happy that Sheva has returned'.

Vice-president Adriano Galliani also expressed his joy at seeing the Ukrainian back among the squad, and insists his return was not solely due to club owner Silvio Berlusconi's close relationship with the player.

'This is a family and we're all happy,' he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

'It's not true that only Silvio Berlusconi insisted that Andriy return. I've put my weight behind the cause too and I'm happy that in the end we've succeeded in bringing him home.'

Shevchenko is set to train individually before joining up with the rest of the squad when they return from having played a friendly in Spain.

It is still uncertain which number the former Milan number seven will wear, although the current occupant of Shevchenko's old shirt - Alexandre Pato - has already revealed he is willing to give up the number.

'We'll talk about it,' Galliani said. 'Maybe our baby (Pato) will give Sheva his number seven back, but it's not fair to ask him.'

On the matter, Shevchenko himself added: 'That's nice of Pato to say that, but as far as I'm concerned number 76 would do fine too, or 70 or 77.

'For me it's just enough that the number's on a Milan shirt.'

Shevchenko later reiterated his gratitude to Chelsea, and in particular club owner Roman Abramovich who was widely assumed to be behind his big-money move to Stamford Bridge.

'I would like to thank Chelsea Football Club - the fans, staff, players and management - for all the support you gave me during my time at the club,' said.

'I would also like to express my gratitude to Roman Abramovich for all his help and encouragement.

'It was unfortunate I suffered a number of injuries during my time here but I always gave my all, whatever the circumstances.

'I really have enjoyed playing in England and have made many friendships that will stay with me forever. I will always look back with fond memories of my time at this really great club. Thank you.'