Lucas Rangel has won championships in Albania and Finland, and he experienced delight and stress on the Old Continent. The most notable was his time with Vorskla Poltava of Ukraine, which he joined in September 2021. And he was there when Russia invaded the nation in February of this year, resulting in a genuine drama of trying to flee the country.
“It was a terrifying time, particularly for us foreigners.” The first city to be assaulted was about an hour and a half away.”
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Early career and move to Europe
Londrina, from Paraná, revealed Lucas Rangel in 2015. He played for various Brazilian teams, including Grêmio Barueri, before he received his first European transfer offer a year later. Albanian side Kukesi showed interested. He didn’t know anything about the nation and didn’t speak any languages other than Portuguese, but he was up for the adventure.
“To tell you the truth, I had no idea Albania existed. But I viewed it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to open the doors of Europe to me.”
Rangel has also represented Austria, Finland, Turkey, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, where he now represents Sabah FC. Many players try to avoid travelling to “different” nations while playing football, but Lucas says he has no regrets about his decisions.
“You must confront everything and come to Europe without fear, since you will have no regrets afterwards.”
He experienced one-of-a-kind and memorable experiences in each of these nations. He felt the coldest of his life on his flesh in Finland, for example — nearly minus 30 degrees Celsius! He had a problem with the team’s coach in Turkey since they did not speak the same language. And there was the experience in Ukraine, which he would not desire “even for the greatest enemy,” as he put it.
To flee Ukraine, there will be drama and saga.
Despite appreciating football and the Ukrainian people, the striker opted to depart the nation once the war with Russia started in February this year while playing for Vorskla Poltava.
“We (Brazilians) had no choice but to act on our own, and we chose to flee the nation.”
Lucas left Poltava and all he had behind to flee to Lviv, a city on the Polish border, to avoid the war that had already begun. Because of the instability in the nation, a trip that would typically take 12 hours became a 30 hour adventure. He was unable to cross the border into the adjacent country on his first attempt after arriving at his location. He just got past the opposite side of the barrier after demanding three or four times. But it wasn’t easy, and there were occasions when he doubted his ability to succeed.
“I even told my wife that if I didn’t give her any news for a time, it was because something bad had occurred to me.”
The group travelled to Lviv by automobile, accompanied by a couple of pastors and a Ukrainian woman, the mother-in-law of a Brazilian influencer who had requested Lucas’ assistance in getting her out of the country. Hungry, cold, and exhausted, the party took around three days to travel from Poltava to Poland. The footballer then travelled to Portugal before sailing to Brazil to see his family.
Future hopes and expectations
FIFA declared shortly after the war began that international players playing in Ukraine and Russia would be allowed to play in other nations. Lucas Rangel took advantage of the situation and scored with Sabah from Azerbaijan, on loan from Vorskla. He claims he has no idea what he will do in the future, but one thing is certain: he will not return to Ukraine.
“I spoke to a lot of my professional colleagues who have played in Ukraine, and no one wants to go back.”
The striker’s contract with Sabah expires in June, and he has already received interest from other teams. He says he will evaluate everything. He also said that the Ukrainian Football Federation is contemplating moving its member clubs to another nation to play. Even though he has no idea what he will do, he assures that he will not be leaving Europe anytime soon, and that he has no plans to return to Brazil for the time being.
“The urge to perform in the general duo is strong since we are from Rio Grande do Sul.” But, if my agent, whom I really trust, is correct, I will not be returning to Brazil anytime soon.”
The whole interview, which includes many fascinating tales about Lucas Rangel’s adventures in European football, is available in the video at the top of this article and on our YouTube page.