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The Toe Poke

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By ESPN Staff

Shevchenko writes open letter to Milan supporters

Andriy Shevchenko has attempted to appease his many AC Milan fans by publishing an open letter on his personal website to emphasise how he struggled to reach his decision to leave Italian football.

The Ukrainian striker confirmed on Friday he wanted to leave Milan and the club's vice-president Adriano Galliani announced the Rossoneri would begin talks with Premiership champions Chelsea.

In his letter, Shevchenko paid tribute to Milan owner and former Italy Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Sheva wrote: 'Yesterday it was a very difficult day for me and before taking this decision, I thought about it for a long time.

'It has been a hard decision but I feel this is the right moment to think about my family and my children as they are the most important thing in my life.

'Some days ago I explained my feelings to Silvio Berlusconi; he is a special person for me, he is Godfather to my son.

'He listened to me and understood my feelings. `Do what is best for your life', he told me, and I will always be grateful to him for this and for what he has done for me and my family.

'I also would like to thank the club and Mr Galliani for everything he has done to keep me. But most of all this is a message to my fans to whom I ask to accept my decision.

'I have read your messages in the last few days and a lot of them have made me very emotional.

'I understand your disappointment and your sadness but I ask you to accept my choice as a man. What you have given to me in the last few years is something special, I have always felt at home with you.

'You will always stay in my heart.'

Shevchenko scored 173 goals for Milan, the second most their history behind Gunnar Nordahl with 221, after joining the club in 1999.