MANCHESTER: Ukraine defender Oleksandr Zinchenko dedicated Manchester City's dramatic Premier League title triumph to his war-torn homeland on Sunday. City retained the title on the last day of the season as they came from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium.
Zinchenko played a role in City's epic success as the left-back came off the bench at half-time to help spark their fightback. Zinchenko was overcome by emotion, draping the Premier League trophy in the Ukrainian yellow and blue flag during the post-match celebrations.
The 25-year-old was quick to highlight the plight of Ukraine in recent months following Russia's invasion. "I'm so proud to be a Ukrainian and I would love to one day bring this title to Ukraine for all Ukrainian people because they deserve it," Zinchenko said.
Like all his compatriots, Zinchenko has been deeply affected by the war. He has attended peaceful protests in Manchester and was public with his criticism of the invasion earlier this season. Zinchenko said helping to win City's fourth title in five seasons was the perfect way to repay the support he has received from boss Pep Guardiola, his team-mates and the club's fans.
"At some point, especially in the beginning, I didn't even think too much about football because it is impossible to live in the same time with what is happening in my country. But with all the support which I had in the past and during this period, we did it, what can I say? The support means everything for me, honestly," Zinchenko said.
"I want to die for all this support because what people gave me, what they have done for me during this period, the toughest period in my life, is so appreciated and I will never forget this, never in my life," he added.