LONDON (AFP) – Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko said he has cried constantly since Russia invaded Ukraine and the Manchester City star told the BBC he would have returned like other sports stars have done to fight had it not been for having a family.
Several past and present Ukrainian sporting luminaries have returned to Ukraine to take up arms, including world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and football manager Yuriy Vernydub.
“I’ll be honest, if not for my daughter, my family, I would be there,” he told the BBC.
“I’m just born like that. I know the people from my country, the mentality of them, and all of them, they think exactly the same. I’m so proud to be Ukrainian, and I will be forever for the rest of my life. And when you’re watching the people, how they fight for their lives. I know the people, the mentality of my people from my country, they prefer to die, and they will die. But they’re not going to give (up).”
Zinchenko – who played for Russian side Ufa for a season before joining City in 2016 for a reported fee of GBP1.7 million (USD2.2 million) – said he is still reeling from what has taken place.
“At midnight, my wife woke me up and she was crying,” he said. “I was in shock. She showed me the videos, the pictures, what’s going on now in Ukraine. Maybe the most closest feeling is when someone from your circle is dying. But this is even much more worse. I’m just crying.”
Zinchenko said he feels for his compatriots and what they are experiencing. “I can show you one million pictures,” he said. “I can show you one million videos, what they (Russia) are doing now. I can show you every city in my country, which they destroyed.
“The people are starving there. The people are just surviving, sleeping on the ground, in bunkers, they cannot live a proper life.”
Zinchenko said he had hesitated about giving the interview but ultimately decided the pros outnumbered the cons.
“I was thinking a few days about this interview. Should I do it? Should I not?” he said.
“But I just want to send the message to all the people that please don’t ignore this. We need to stop the war.”