12-Year-Old Boy Flees War In Ukraine, Signs Deal With Professional Soccer Club

Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Alyssa Blakemore Contributor
Font Size:

Stanislav Drabych’s soccer skills have  earned him a deal with Scottish side Dundee United after the 12-year-old and his family fled the war in Ukraine for Scotland last March.

Known as Stas, the young soccer player quickly caught the attention of administrators at his new school in Scotland, according to the BBC. A tip-off from his school’s head teacher led to successful try-outs with Dundee United and a sign-on for the Ukrainian athlete, the outlet reported.

Stas previously attended a residential school in Lviv, Ukraine, where he received training and schooling, according to the BBC. He worried time off the field would affect his skills, as the intensifying conflict in Ukraine kept him out of training for several months. “Before I moved from Ukraine, I didn’t play for three months,” Stas told the BBC. “I forgot what football means and how to play football – now I’m happy.” (RELATED: Ukrainian UFC Fighter Maryna Moroz Shares Emotional Message About The War With Russia After Big Win)

The 12-year-old and his family moved to his aunt’s home in the small coastal town of Monifieth, according to the BBC. His new deal with Dundee United comes with extra support for both Stas and his family, provided by the soccer club’s safeguarding staff, the BBC noted. “He was buddied up with an established player and we have worked with him on the language barrier,” Dundee United said. “He couldn’t speak a lot of English at first and this was an entirely different culture.” The club also provided transportation for his dad during his job search.

“Life is not hard for me – I live with my family, in Ukraine I lived with my team, Stas told the BBC. “I’m a strong boy and have had a lot of adventures.” The rising soccer star aspires to play like Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and hopes for a contract with Barcelona one day, the BBC said.