EERIE drone footage has captured a rare glimpse inside a war-torn Euros stadium in Russian-held Ukrainian territory.
Opened in 2009, the £320million stadium in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine was home to national giants and reigning champions Shakhtar Donetsk.
The ghost ground once played host to Champions League games and five major matches in the Euros 2012, including two of England’s group stage fixtures and the semi-final between Portugal and eventual-winners Spain.
It was one of eight venues used for UEFA championships, which was jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland.
With a capacity of 52,000, it was the third-largest stadium in the tournament.
But since 2014, The Donbass Arena has been out of bounds since Russian forces invaded the region.
The new Ukrainian drone footage reveals a stadium that has been ravaged by war – haunting, empty, and a shell of its former glory.
The UAV soars high above the stadium just catching a peek inside, where ‘Donetsk’ is still spelt out in huge white letters.
Mysterious white stuff covers the darkened, overgrown grass and the once bright red seats have turned into a faded grey.
The arena was heavily damaged by artillery shelling in August 2012 as Putin’s troops and pro-Russian separatists battled Ukrainian forces in the area.
By this point, the club had already moved out of its home, relocating more than 600 miles west to Lviv, far from the front line.
In October 2014, further artillery shelling blasted holes right through the stadium from east to west.
The fighting continued on and off for years, making it unsafe for Shakhtar to return.
Then the long abandoned stadium suffered further destruction when it was caught in the crossfires in March 2022 following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russian state TV shared footage of shell craters just metres from the stadium, as well as a number of shattered windows on its outside.
After a decade of war, it now lies in ruins – bomb-blitzed and abandoned – with smashed turnstiles and shattered glass exteriors.
The floodlights have been out of power for years and the racks inside the club shop lie empty.
It seems unlikely the stadium will be used again, with Donetsk being illegally claimed as part of Russia by Putin in September.
For now, the venue remains a frightening reminder of the fragility of peace in Europe.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Tsentralnyi football stadium in Mykolaiv has been abandoned since 2021 and a Russian missile blew a huge chunk out of it last year.
The ground is now covered in a forest of trees and is barely recognisable after more than 30 years of neglect – the site was seized again by Russian forces in 2022.