Interview

‘This is a dream come true’

Our new recruit was all smiles after completing his move from Manchester City on Friday.

Oleksandr Zinchenko flew across the USA to join up with the squad on our summer tour in Florida, and revealed it marked the fulfilment of a boyhood dream, as he has supported the club since he was a kid.

The 25-year-old Ukraine international also spoke about working under Mikel Arteta again, his relationship with Gabriel Jesus, his role in the side and what he can bring to the team.

Read on for a full transcript of his first interview…

Welcome to The Arsenal Alex! What does it mean to you to join the club?
Thank you so much. First of all I would like to say this is a boyhood dream come true, because I was a massive fan when I was a kid. Since Thierry Henry and young Cesc Fabregas was playing here, I was just enjoying watching those games, that Arsenal. And obviously I started to love this club, so I am so excited and I cannot wait to play for this amazing club.

We have seen the photos on social media of you wearing an Arsenal shirt when you were a kid, so was that all the way through?
Yeah, I remember that was in Donetsk, when I was at the Shakhtar academy, and like I said already, it’s a dream come true.

You have just been welcomed to the training camp here in Florida, what have been your first impressions?
It’s an amazing atmosphere you know, everyone is so kind, and all the staff here are amazing. I heard a lot of good things from Manchester City people about the medical staff or whatever, the guys working in the kitchen, the players and obviously Gabriel Jesus. So I heard here is an amazing atmosphere.

One of those people you knew from Manchester City is the boss. How important was he in your decision to sign?
I would say it’s the most important role in my decision because I’ve known Mister for a while, I used to work with him at Manchester City. Since the first day at City I knew that he’s going to be a very good manager. The way he can see football, especially I was watching the last season of Arsenal’s games and I was really enjoying it. You can see in the style, the picture of the game, so I would love to see it (while) playing and being involved.

What was your relationship like back at Manchester City? How much did he help your game?
The way we were working together, I was so impressed because I remember how many times we were working hard in the training sessions and then straight after with individual stuff and I took a lot from the manager and I hope I can take even more.

And you mentioned Gabby, how well did you link up in training and in the games?
Oh, to be honest we are close to each other and I love him so much. He’s my big friend and I would like to say he was also involved in the discussions and all these things, so he’s told me a lot of good things about this amazing club and about this atmosphere, and the guys and everyone here, so I’m really impressed and so excited.

So you have been on the phone to him in the last few days and weeks?
I’m always in touch with him, even when he was at City or when he left, so I was always with him.

We’ve seen you play at left back and in midfield for your country, but what do you feel is your best position?
Wherever the manager is going to see me on the pitches. It’s the simple answer but it’s true, even if the manager tells me one day I need to be goalkeeper, I will be there.

What has the boss said to you about your role in the team?
Yes we spoke about my role in this team, but I would like to keep it private and then we are going to see.

You have won four Premier League titles, you have been voted Ukrainian Footballer of the Year – what do you feel you will bring to this Arsenal team?
I’m ready for another challenge. I’m not here just to waste my time and the time of Arsenal because the club is always in front of everyone. I am here to achieve big things and I hope we can win some titles, and I hope we are going to fight for every title in which we are going to be involved. Even from the last season, I was watching The Arsenal’s games and I could smell it’s coming, you know? The team is growing up so quickly and I think it’s time. It’s time to do our best and to achieve something big.

You will be our second Ukrainian after Oleg Luzhny, how proud are you to follow his footsteps?
Yes I’m so proud to be honest. He’s absolutely a Ukrainian legend and unfortunately I don’t know him personally, I didn’t have that opportunity yet, but I heard a lot of good things about him and I’m so proud.

You have played at the Emirates before, but you must be looking forward to pulling on the red shirt there?
One hundred per cent! You found that picture from eight or nine years ago, wearing the tee-shirt. I remember exactly that day, I really liked how it suited me, so I don’t know the reaction from the people, but I really enjoy it, even now, sitting with you.

What was the feeling like when you pulled on your shirt and met the rest of your team?
It’s unbelievable, honestly, like I said, it’s a dream come true and since I was a kid I couldn’t even dream about it, but now it’s time, so I’m so happy.

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