News From Manchester: Oleksandr Zinchenko’s emotional and classy display shows why he’s Man City’s new Pablo Zabaleta

All 50,000 fans inside the Etihad Stadium who were still in shock with what they had just witnessed must have shed a tear for the left-back when he wrapped the Ukrainian flag around the Premier League trophy and posed for photos.

The emotion soon got the better of Zinchenko, and all his teammates were quick to embrace their friend as they have surely had to do since Russia began their invasion of his home country. Zinchenkos story is an inspiration not just for footballers, but for football fans in general.

Before moving to England, Zinchenko was without a club for five to six months, moving from street to street in a war-torn Donetsk with his family in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis. Fast-forward nearly seven years and he has just won Premier League number four, but this one was by far the most special.

Im 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, the 25-year-old told Sky Sports in the midst of crazy title celebrations.

With everything that is happening in the place he calls home, its remarkable how Zinchenko has managed to continue his day-to-day duties at the club – but that fact is everything the full-back is about.

For years and years and even at full-time on Sunday City fans have chanted about Pablo Zabaleta being harder than Jaap Stam. The song is an ode to a former blue, but everything fans loved about Zabaleta is embodied by Zinchenko.

Guardiola's backline plan had not worked in the first half and the Catalan entrusted Zinchenko to come on and bring some much-needed composure to proceedings. Straight away, he was tidy in possession and progressive with the ball up the pitch – just what City needed in the chaos of a final day thriller. His jinxing run and pass set up Rodri for the equaliser and his performance – amongst a few others – really saved City's season.

He is a priceless gem for Guardiola and City; unselfish, never kicks up a fuss over game time, and gives his all whenever called upon. That's something that can't be coached, but it's always a vital part of a winning team, and the club must harness that in the future.

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