The fullback opened up about what has been an extremely difficult week for his home country
Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko opened up on how he has struggled to comprehend Russias invasion of his native Ukraine, thanking the world for their support while saying he wishes he was able to return to his country to aid in the fight.
Russias invasion of Ukraine has gripped the world, with footballers impacted in the same way as the rest of society.
Zinchenko is one of several Ukrainian players plying their trade abroad, and the Manchester City star says it is hard for him to look on as his country suffers.
Zinchenko revealed how he found out about what was going on in his home country, admitting that he was, and still is, in shock.
“At midnight UK time, my wife woke me up and she was crying,” Zinchenko told BBC.
“I was in shock. She showed me the videos, the pictures, whats 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.”
He admitted that he is still shaken more than a week later as he struggles to come to grips with the world around him.
“Im just crying,” he said. “So already a week, Im not counting, but even I can drive the car from the training ground, or it doesnt matter where, I can just cry from nothing.
“Its everything in my head. Imagine the place where you was born, where you was growing up. And there is just empty ground.”
Several footballers and coaches have taken up arms to fight, with Vitalii Sapylo, 21, and Dmytro Martynenko, 25, losing their lives in combat to become the first football casualties of the conflict this week.
Yuriy Vernydub, who rose to fame for leading Moldovan side Sheriff past Real Madrid in the Champions League this season, has returned to Ukraine to join the army, while Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergey Palkin has called for an end to the “madness” while confirming that a youth coach employed by the club has been killed “by a fragment of a Russian shell”.
Zinchenko, meanwhile, has stayed in Manchester, and was given the captains armband in this weeks FA Cup win over Peterborough, but he too wishes he could be back helping fight for his people.
“Ill be honest, if not for my daughter, my family, I would be there,” he said.
“Im just born like that. I know the people from my country, the mentality of them, and all of them, they think exactly the same.
“Im so proud to be Ukrainian, and I will be forever for the rest of my life. And when youre 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 theyre not going to give [up].”
Zinchenko also thanked those from around the world for their support as much of the world has sent their love to those from Ukraine.
“Im so grateful,” he said. “Im so grateful to all these people for the support Im getting here. I didnt realise its going to be like that in this way. So I would like to say all of them big thanks. I appreciate it.
“Im 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
“Its like, the people who are supporting Ukraine, they are trying to push them – dont give up. And I know my people they wont.”