We all know that Oleksandr Zinchenko has been a star for club and country for a few years now, but there’s so much more to learn about our latest arrival.
As well as having an incredible story that saw him rise from street football in Russia to Premier League glory, here are some obscure facts about the Ukraine skipper to impress your mates with:
Making an impression
When you see Zinchenko charging around the field, pressing anything that moves, it probably stems from one of his first experiences of youth football growing up in his hometown of Radomyshl.
Having previously been rejected for being younger and smaller than everyone else, his second attempt a year later saw none of the other boys pass to him. After coming home frustrated, his mother told him: “If they won’t pass to you, go and win the ball!”. The rest was history.
Previous with Arsenal
We’ve all seen the photo of a young Zinchenko proudly wearing his Arsenal shirt as a kid living in Donetsk, but he would also get an early chance to sample life in north London.
In February 2014, we were drawn against Shakhtar in the last-16 of the UEFA Youth League, and Zinchenko played all 90 minutes at Meadow Park against current teammates Hector Belerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He assisted his side’s goal but the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners.
Zinchenko’s wife Vlada is a famous sports journalist and TV presenter in Ukraine. Following a post-match interview in the aftermath of a 5-0 win against Serbia in June 2019, Oleksandr kissed her on the cheek, confirming rumours of a relationship.
Four months later, after Ukraine secured their place at Euro 2020, he proposed to her on the pitch at the national stadium in Kyiv, with the wedding taking place in August 2020. Last year, they welcomed their first child into the world.
An unlikely tutor
During his time playing for Ufa in Russia, Zinchenko lent on one of his teammates to help him learn English - none other than former Gunners midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong.
However, Frimpong is unhappy with his end of the deal: “He never paid me for my work,” Frimpong jokingly told Sport24. “We agreed with him that he would pay me when he left. I usually charge $2,000 an hour but he is my friend, so there is only $1,000 for him. I spent so much time on him!.”
Zinchenko’s arrival into the City first-team also saw him become a good luck charm, as he ended up on the winning side in all of his first 23 Premier League appearances for Pep Guardiola’s team.
That run between December 2017 and August 2019 saw him move level with then-teammate David Silva’s divisional record, before a draw against Tottenham Hotspur ended his 100% start.
Eclipsing a legend
As well as being Ukraine’s youngest ever captain, Zinchenko’s first goal for his country also proved to be a little slice of his nation’s footballing history.
When he netted in a 4-3 win over Romania aged 19 years and 165 days, Zinchenko became Ukraine’s youngest goalscorer, breaking Andriy Shevchenko’s 20-year record.
Making a refugee’s day
Earlier this year, Zinchenko invited a 10-year-old Ukrainian refugee to the Manchester City training ground for a kickabout to try and hand him back a small slice of normality after he fled his homeland.
In a caption on Instagram, Zinchenko said: “This is Andrei… 75 days ago, this boy dreamed of becoming a football player and trained carefree with his team. Today, he dreams of only one thing – about peace in our country. About the calm. About normal life at home.”
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