Manchester City

Oleksandr Zinchenko thanks the world for standing by Ukraine

Toby Cudworth
Zinchenko before City's game with Everton
Zinchenko before City's game with Everton / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Manchester City utility player Oleksandr Zinchenko has thanked the world for standing in solidarity with Ukraine during an emotional interview about Russia's invasion.

The 25-year-old isn't a regular starter at the Etihad Stadium but captained City during the midweek FA Cup win over Peterborough, amid a swathe of support from all those in attendance and from around the world.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Zinchenko has now spoken of his gratitude for the outpouring of love and support he and the people of Ukraine have received, and detailed how his wife woke him up in the middle of the night to tell him Russia had started to invade.

"I'm so grateful," Zinchenko said. "I'm so grateful to all these people for the support I'm getting here. I didn't realise it's going to be like that in this way. So I would like to say all of them big thanks. I appreciate it.

"I'm getting a lot of messages from a lot of guys in Ukraine and they are asking me about the videos of support [from the UK]. So people are watching TV, the people are still watching football, and they can see all these things, and I guess it helps a lot for them.

"It's like, the people who are supporting Ukraine, they are trying to push them - don't give up. And I know my people, they won't."

On his wife telling him war had broken out, Zinchenko said: "At midnight UK time, my wife woke me up and she was crying. I was in shock. She showed me the videos, the pictures, what's going on now in Ukraine.

"Maybe the most closest feeling is when someone from your circle is dying. You know, this feeling like you feel so bad inside. But this is even much more worse.

"I'm just crying," he continued. "So already a week, I'm not counting, but even I can drive the car from the training ground, or it doesn't matter where, I can just cry from nothing.

"It's everything in my head. Imagine the place where you was born, where you was growing up. And there is just empty ground."

Zinchenko has a number of friends who have opted to stay in Ukraine and fight, and he added that were it not for his daughter and his family he'd be there alongside them.

Messages of support for Zinchenko from Manchester City supporters / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

"I'll be honest, if not for my daughter, my family, I would be there. I'm just born like that," Zinchenko remarked. "I know the people from my country, the mentality of them, and all of them, they think exactly the same.

"I'm so proud to be Ukrainian, and I will be forever for the rest of my life. And when you're watching the people, how they fight for their lives. I know the people, the mentality of my people from my country, they prefer to die, and they will die. But they're not going to give [up]."