“I could see the nuclear power plant and the smoke rising above the ruins.” In April 1986, FC Stroitel Pripyat and captain Valentin Litvin were preparing for a cup semi-final when Chernobyl’s No.4 nuclear reactor exploded.

Read the story in issue 303 of FourFourTwo and on the FourFourTwo website, and listen on the FourFourTwo podcast.

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football, history, true adventure. The Guardian, Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, Longreads, Deadspin, etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK