Jewish soccer player, dreaming of playing in Israel, killed in Ukraine war

Dmytro Martynenko reportedly killed along with his mother in Russian shelling of their Kyiv home; midfielder/striker was supposed to join Israeli soccer in the summer ahead of the 2022/23 season

Yarden Balahsan|
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its 8th day and has already claimed thousands of lives, including that of a promising Ukrainian-born Jewish footballer bound for the Israeli big leagues.
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  • Dmytro Martynenko, 25, played as a midfielder/striker for Gostomel in the second amateur league in Kyiv and finished as its top scorer last season.
    2 View gallery
    Dmytro Martynenko
    Dmytro Martynenko
    Dmytro Martynenko
    (Photo: Instagram)
    He was scheduled to arrive in Israel in the summer and join the local 2022/23 season.
    Martynenko was reportedly killed along with his mother when their home in Kyiv was bombarded by Russian forces.
    His Israeli agent, Yoav Elimelech, said that Martynenko was supposed to join a team in Israel's Liga Alef — the third-tier league in Israeli soccer and top amateur league — and that negotiations over his contract were close to finalization.
    2 View gallery
    Smoke billowing from the Antonov airport outside Kyiv reported to be under Russian control on Thursday
    Smoke billowing from the Antonov airport outside Kyiv reported to be under Russian control on Thursday
    Smoke billowing on Thursday from the Antonov airport outside Kyiv which is reportedly under Russian control
    (Photo: AFP)
    “I was impressed by him. He seemed like a very educated, intelligent and quiet person,” said Elimelech.
    “We first got in touch about two years ago. I have many Jewish players from the Russian-speaking community: Ukraine, Belarus and Russia… Martynenko wanted to come to Israel following the footsteps of many other players before him."
    The football world also mourned Martynenko's death, as well as the death of Vitalii Sapylo, another Ukrainian footballer killed in the Russian invasion.
    "Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and teammates of young Ukrainian footballers Vitalii Sapylo (21) and Dmytro Martynenko (25), football’s first reported losses in this war. May they both rest in peace," the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) wrote on its Twitter page.
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