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Zinchenko’s tearful support for Ukraine after EPL title win

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Ukrainian flag used by Oleksandr Zinchenko to wipe his tears also inspired Manchester City’s Premier League win.

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As Zinchenko marched across the field with the trophy, the yellow and blue colors of his homeland enveloped him. The weeping Ukrainian international then placed the trophy on the pitch and wrapped it in the flag, sending another powerful signal of support for his nation that is resisting the Russian invasion.

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“These are unforgettable emotions for me, for all Ukrainians who are currently starving,” Zinchenko said after a 3-2 win over Aston Villa on Sunday to seal the title. “They survive in my country because of Russian aggression. I am so proud to be Ukrainian and I would like to one day bring this title to Ukraine for all Ukrainians because they deserve it.”

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More than 6 million people have left Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Zinchenko raised money for refugees and used social media to highlight Russian atrocities.

“At some point, especially in the beginning, I didn’t think too much about football, because it’s impossible to live with what is happening in my country,” Zinchenko said. “But with all the support I had during this period, we made it.”

Zinchenko played a key role on the pitch in securing a victory over Villa that gave the team a one-point lead over Liverpool to give him and City their fourth title in five seasons.

The left-back came on at half-time to replace the struggling 37-year-old captain Fernandinho as their side were down 1-0 and he set up Rodri for a goal that equalized in the 2-2 season finale before Ilkay Gündogan scored City’s third goal spell for five minutes.

With the support of his country and City fans, Zinchenko’s mission after the Premier League championship celebration is to try to prepare Ukraine for the World Cup.

“I want to die for these people, for all this support,” he said, “because what people have given me, what they have done for me during this whole period, the most difficult period of my life, I am so grateful and will never forget about it. Never.”

The climax of the World Cup qualification for Ukraine was postponed due to the outbreak of war. Ukraine will play Scotland in the play-off semi-final on 1 June, while the winner will face Wales in Cardiff on 5 June for the final European spot in Qatar.

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More AP football: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports




Source: sports.yahoo.com

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