Former Portsmouth, Birmingham, Wigan and Blackpool winger Viv Solomon-Otabor among those to escape war in Ukraine

Well-travelled former Pompey winger Viv Solomon-Otabor has spoken of his successful bid to escape Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

By Mark McMahon
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 3:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 27th February 2022, 3:30 pm

The 26-year-old managed to flee the country, which has been under siege from Russian troops since last week, and get to safety as hundreds of thousands of others attempt to evacuate as well.

Solomon-Otabor, who played 10 times for the Blues in 2019 during a loan spell from Birmingham, only arrived in Ukraine last month.

He signed for Ukrainian top-flight side FC Rukh Lviv after his short-term spell at Scottish Premiership outfit St Johnstone ended in January.

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The Nigerian had yet to feature for his latest new club, which is based close to the Polish border and 550km west of the capital city Kyiv, because of the league’s winter break.

It’s unclear whether the forward ever will given the circumstances.

But now well away from danger, the former Pompey player can’t help but feel for those yet to reach safety.

Speaking about his experience on Sky Sports, Solomon-Otabor said: ‘There was just a lot of cars, a lot of people, a lot of lorries.

Former Pompey winger Viv Solomon-Otabor

‘They were obviously trying to get back. Some got told to turn around which was not nice to see.

‘There was a lot of cars. Everybody was just calm but you could see the fear in their faces.

‘You could see that fear as they were trying to get out.’

Solomon-Otabor scored once for Pompey during his 10 game spell at Fratton Park as the Blues’ 2018-19 promotion bid was ended by Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.

Former boss Kenny Jackett was interested in making the winger’s temporary stay a permanent one – but the former Blackpool and Bolton ace rejected those advances in favour of a move to CSKA Sofia.

His time in Bulgaria lasted only one season, though, with the wide man agreeing a one-year deal to sign for Wigan in September 2020.

That spell saw him play 31 times and score twice – prompting the Latics to offer him a new deal last summer.

Yet Solomon-Otabor failed to agree terms on a new contract, leaving him without a club until St Johnstone came in for him last November.

He played seven times for the McDiarmid Park side before agreeing to join FC Rukh Lviv in January.