Italy face familiar threat in Ukraine quarter-final

"We then began to believe in ourselves and slowly but surely things have improved."

Shevchenko joined AC Milan from Dynamo Kiev for the start of the 1999-00 season.

Most forwards need time to adjust to the close marking in Serie A, but ‘Sheva’, as he’s known in Italy, made an immediate impact, scoring 24 goals in 32 league appearances in his first season.

In total, Shevchenko netted 127 goals in 208 Serie A matches for AC Milan.

Italy reached the quarter-finals thanks to Francesco Totti’s last-gasp penalty against Australia, despite playing for almost the entire second half with 10 men following the dismissal of Marco Materazzi.

The three-time champions have been far from convicncing on their way to the last eight, but Azzurri captain Fabio Cannavaro insisted his side were there on merit.

"It annoys me when people say that we are lucky," he said.

"Against Australia we had six or seven opportunities to score, and people still say we were lucky. It was Australia who were lucky because they had 11 men against 10."

With Alessandro Nesta still nursing a groin strain and Materazzi suspended for one match, Palermo’s Andrea Barzagli is expected to start alongside Cannavaro at the heart of Italy’s defence.

Italy’s players were stunned on Tuesday by the news of former international Gianluca Pessotto’s apparent suicide attempt.

Pessotto played for Juventus for 11 years before retiring last month and becoming team manager. He made 22 appearances for Italy.

The 35-year-old played alongside many of the current Italian team at club and international level.

Italy have played the Ukraine on three previous occasions. They beat them home and away in qualification matches for the 1996 European championships and the teams played out a goalless draw in a friendly only last month.