The trip to the top of Oleksandr Zinchenko was amazing
Born in Radomyshl, where other children wouldn’t move on to the local football academy when he was young, he ended up spending six years at Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine’s biggest club.
Zinchenko was captain of Shakhat’s Under-19 team and things were progressing well. But because of the war in the region, he and his family were forced to leave the country in 2014.
This meant that Zinchenko was without a club for five months and following a contract dispute and a period of training alone on the streets of Moscow, he ended up signing for Russian club FC Ufa and there started his professional career.
Zinchenko played 33 times for Ufa before City won him £ 1.7million in 2016, just a day after Pep Guardiola was revealed as manager.
On loan to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands for a season, he looked destined to be a player that City would sell for a bit of a profit without him ever playing a competitive game.
But almost four years after making his debut as a makeshift left-back, Zinchenko is approaching his 100th appearance alongside Guardiola.
17: Fled the war in Ukraine
18: finally allowed to play professionally after a contract dispute
19: Signed by Manchester City for £ 1.7m and loaned to PSV
21: Won the PL
22: Won the national treble
24: A crucial part of the City 2020/21 squad
The life of Oleks Zinchenko pic.twitter.com/UFsbRonJHb
– Baldiola (@TeacherOfBall) April 29, 2021
Taking advantage of his opportunities and even deciding to fight for his place as City were happy to allow him to join Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Ukraine international has made incredible progress.
He won his first Premier League title at 21, sadly toppling the trophy in celebrations, and he made 29 appearances when City won the domestic treble in 2018/19.
Handing over the No.11 shirt, Zinchenko signed a new deal with City in June 2019, but it was this season that he really rose to prominence.
A key part of City’s build and how they play from behind, their 1-0 introduction against PSG in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-finals completely turned the game around.
For reserved Joao Cancelo, he helped City dominate the ball in the second half and provided assist to Kevin De Bruyne’s leveler.
If City continue to win a hat-trick this quarter, Zinchenko has more than played its part. Guardiola loves his attitude and in 2019 said everyone could learn from him.
“The day after a game is always difficult for the guys who haven’t played [in their] practice session and most of the players sometimes want to show me how disappointed they are, ”Guardiola said.
“So maybe before the game they are nice again in front of the manager and their teammates.
“This guy was just the opposite. That’s why he always plays well. He showed me again the mood, the demeanor, being positive, smiling and alert. When that happens you will always play well.
“That’s why I’m thrilled. He deserves all my respect and I think he’s going to have a long career. I don’t know if it will hopefully be here or somewhere else, but with this behavior he will be happy. to do its job.
“I can only say thank you. More than the way he plays, it’s his approach.”
Zinchenko explained it perfectly in an interview with The telegraph. Asked what it takes to make a footballer, he replied: “1% talent, 99% hard work.”
His rise is concrete proof that hard work always trumps talent.