Dnipro find themselves in a position to lift the gloom in their war-weary country, at least for a while, when they play Seville in the Europa League final in Warsaw.
With fighting raging near their hometown of Dnipropetrovsk, the Ukrainian club had to travel more than 300 miles to play their Europa League home matches in the capital, Kiev, away from their fans and often at near-empty stadiums. As glory beckons, they still have their compatriots on the front line in mind.
“These are hard times for our state and for us too. We are hoping our sporting achievement will inspire our heroes who are defending our country from the enemy,” said their right-back, Artem Fedetskiy.
An industrial city with a population of just under a million, Dnipropetrovsk has avoided being sucked into the war between the Kiev government and eastern rebels, in which more than 6,200 people have died in just over a year.
Dnipropetrovsk has experienced an influx of refugees and is home to an important medical centre for treating military wounded, and has come to be regarded as a bulwark against the separatist threat affecting neighbouring big cities such as Donetsk.
“I have friends, and friends of friends, who are fighting. They have been drafted into the army or are in volunteer battalions. We and our fanatical fans help them as best as we can,” Fedetskiy said.