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'In the difficult moments you realise who your friends are': Arsenal star praises UK government's Ukraine support

13 June 2023, 07:51 | Updated: 13 June 2023, 08:39

Oleksander Zinchenko met with the Ukrainian President
Oleksander Zinchenko met with the Ukrainian President. Picture: Instagram
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

Arsenal full-back Oleksander Zinchenko has heaped praise on the UK government for its support for Ukraine.

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In an interview with LBC, he said “I would like to say a massive thank you for the help and support”, before describing the UK as one of his country’s “best friends”.

The Ukrainian international recently returned to the war-torn country for the first time since the invasion began, saying that it was a “difficult” experience.

He added “It’s where I want to be always, even in this difficult time. It’s important for us to return home to show people there that they are not alone, I just want to help my country”

During the visit to his homeland, accompanied by Ukrainian football royalty Andriy Shevchenko - who formerly captained and managed the national team – the pair travelled to the Mykhailo-Kotsyubinsky Lyceum, a school which had been shelled in Chernihiv Oblast, Northern Ukraine.

The pair also met President Zelenskyy and played football with many of the schoolchildren.

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Arsenal full-back Oleksander Zinchenko has heaped praise on the UK government for its support for Ukraine.
Arsenal full-back Oleksander Zinchenko has heaped praise on the UK government for its support for Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

Zinchenko, 26, told LBC that he heard “scary stories” when speaking with the children about their experiences “the Russian army were in their houses, it’s two times more scary to hear that from the kids”.

But football is a unifying sport, and as the footballer explains “when we played football together with the kids, for the first time they seemed to forget that there was a war”.

He added that although the rebuilding process for his country will be “long” and “tough”, he is determined to see Ukraine “rise” once again.

Read more: RAF scrambles to intercept Russian aircraft twice in 24 hours as tensions escalate

Oleksander Zinchenko was speaking to LBC's Henry Riley
Oleksander Zinchenko was speaking to LBC's Henry Riley. Picture: LBC

Sixteen months after Russia invaded the country, the footballer was struck with how Ukrainians are trying to get on with their lives.

He described his people are the “bravest in the world” and praised the country’s “spirit”, before adding “people are just trying to carry on, to keep going, even with the bombs and the rockets they are not leaving their homes”.

“I just want my daughter, when she grows up, to know that I did my part to help my country”

Zinchenko will be joining a host of world-famous footballers and celebrities at the Game4Ukraine on Saturday 5th August at Stamford Bridge.

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