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Oleksandr Zinchenko's Journey To The Top Has Been Incredible

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Oleksandr Zinchenko's Journey To The Top Has Been Incredible

Soon Oleksandr Zinchenko will lift a third Premier League title with Manchester City, continuing a quite remarkable story for the 24-year-old.

Born in Radomyshl, where other kids wouldn't pass to him at the local football academy as a youngster, he ended up spending six years at Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine's biggest club.

Zinchenko captained Shakhat's Under 19 side and things were progressing well. But because of war in the region, he and his family were forced to leave the country in 2014.

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It meant Zinchenko was without a club for five months and following a contract dispute and a period where he was training in the streets of Moscow by himself, he ended up signing for Russian side FC Ufa and began his professional career there.

Zinchenko played 33 times for Ufa before City snapped him up for £1.7 million in 2016, just a day after Pep Guardiola was unveiled as manager.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Loaned out to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands for a season, he looked destined to be a player City would sell for a bit of profit without him ever playing a competitive game.

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But nearly four years after making his debut as a makeshift left-back, Zinchenko is closing in on his 100th appearance for Guardiola's side.

Making the most of his opportunities and even deciding to fight for his place when City were happy to allow him to join Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Ukraine international has made incredible strides.

He won his first Premier League title at 21, infamously knocking the trophy over in celebrations, and he made 29 appearances when City won the domestic treble in 2018/19.

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Image: PA
Image: PA

Handed the No.11 shirt, Zinchenko signed a new deal with City in June 2019 but it's this season where he's really grown in importance.

A key part of City's build up and way of playing out from the back, his introduction at 1-0 down against PSG in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final completely turned the game on its head.

On for the booked Joao Cancelo, he helped City dominate the ball in the second half and supplied the assist for Kevin De Bruyne's leveller.

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Image: PA
Image: PA

If City go on to win a treble this term, Zinchenko has more than played his part. Guardiola loves his attitude and in 2019, said that everyone else could learn from him.

Image: PA
Image: PA

"The day after the games is always difficult for the guys who didn't play [in their] training session and most of the players sometimes want to show me how disappointed they are," Guardiola said.

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"Then maybe before the game they are nice again in front of the manager and their team-mates.

"This guy was the complete opposite. That is the reason he always plays good. He showed me again the mood, the behaviour, being positive, smiling and alert. When this happens, you will always play good.

"That's why I'm delighted. He deserves all my respect and I think he's going to make a long career. I don't know if that will be here, hopefully, or another place, but with this behaviour he will be happy doing his job.

"I can only say thank you. More than the way he plays, it's his approach."

Zinchenko put 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 beats talent.

Topics: Manchester City, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Football

Josh Lawless
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