Zinchenko’s tearful support for Ukraine after EPL title win

May 22, 2022, 2:54 AM | Updated: 3:12 pm

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Ukrainian flag Oleksandr Zinchenko used to wipe away the tears also inspired Manchester City’s Premier League title winner.

As Zinchenko paraded around the field with the trophy, the yellow-and-blue colors of his homeland were wrapped around him. Then the weeping Ukraine international set the trophy down on the field and draped it in the flag — sending out another powerful message in support of his nation as it fights back against the Russian invasion.

“It’s unforgettable emotions for me, for all the Ukrainians who at the moment are starving,” Zinchenko said after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa sealed the title. “They are surviving in my country because of Russian aggression. I’m so proud to be Ukrainian, and I would love to one day bring this title to Ukraine, for all Ukrainian people, because they deserve it.”

More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war on Feb. 24, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Zinchenko has raised money for the 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 is impossible to live with what is happening in my country,” Zinchenko said. “But with all the support which I had during this period, we did it.”

Zinchenko played a pivotal role on the field in securing the victory over Villa that ensured the team held off Liverpool’s challenge by one point, giving him and City a fourth title in five seasons.

The left back came on at halftime to replace struggling 37-year-old captain Fernandinho when their team was trailing 1-0 and he set up Rodri for the goal that tied the season finale at 2-2 before Ilkay Gündogan grabbed City’s third goal in a five-minute spell.

Buoyed by the support of his nation and City fans, Zinchenko’s mission after the Premier League title celebrations is trying to qualify Ukraine for the World Cup.

“I want to die for these people, for all this support,” he said, “because what people gave me, what they have done for me during all this period, the toughest period of my life, I am so appreciative and I will never forget this. Never in my life.”

The climax to World Cup qualifying for Ukraine was delayed by the start of the war. Ukraine plays Scotland in the semifinal playoffs on June 1 with the winner facing Wales in Cardiff on June 5 for Europe’s final place in Qatar.

___

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE -LeBron James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, Monday, ...
Associated Press

LeBron’s off-court legacy complements his basketball success

Mya Smiley is a student at the University of Akron thanks to an assist from LeBron James, and she is determined upon graduation to become a social worker that helps foster kids. Her education and career path would not have been possible, the sophomore says, were it not for a scholarship and counseling that she […]
24 hours ago
Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett, center, is congratulated by his players after notching his 5...
Associated Press

Bennett earns 500th win as No. 18 Saint Mary’s beats USF

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Randy Bennett earned his 500th win as Saint Mary’s coach when the 18th-ranked Gaels beat San Francisco 68-59 on Thursday night for their 11th straight victory. Alex Ducas had 18 points and Aidan Mahaney scored 13 of his 17 in the second half to lead the Gaels (20-4, 9-0 West Coast […]
24 hours ago
Los Angeles Clippers' Nicolas Batum fouls Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first h...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo scores 54 points, Bucks beat Clippers 106-105

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his most famous 50-point performance by ordering 50 chicken nuggets at a Chick-fil-A drive-through the next day. He already has an idea how to commemorate reaching that plateau for the third time in the last month. Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth quarter and the […]
24 hours ago
Duke coach Kara Lawson directs the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game ag...
Associated Press

Duke women’s coach Lawson says men’s ball used vs. FSU

Duke coach Kara Lawson said her team played with a men’s basketball for the first half of a loss to Florida State last Sunday. The 16th-ranked Blue Devils lost to the Seminoles 70-57 in Tallahassee, Florida — the team’s second Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season. After her team beat Pittsburgh 53-44 on Thursday, […]
24 hours ago
Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman, front, pulls in a rebound in front of Denver Nuggets fo...
Associated Press

Murray, Jokic lead charge as Nuggets beat Warriors 134-117

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray just nodded when asked if this might be the most confident he’s ever been. Nothing else really needed to be said. Murray had 33 points and Nikola Jokic recorded his 17th triple-double of the season, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 134-117 win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors on […]
24 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) battles New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. ...
Associated Press

Mavs hang on after Doncic hurt, hand Pels 10th straight loss

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks barely held on after leading by 27 points when Luka Doncic exited the game with a right heel injury on a hard fall. The New Orleans Pelicans thought their one chance to finish the rally and end a long losing streak was taken away by the officials, who acknowledged […]
24 hours ago
Zinchenko’s tearful support for Ukraine after EPL title win