Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has admitted it has been difficult to see Oleksandr Zinchenko suffer in recent weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Zinchenko, 25, has been visibly shaken by the violence in his homeland and even admitted that only his family has stopped him from travelling back to take up arms.
In an emotional interview with BBC Sport recently, the defender said he has been crying ‘from nothing’ – and has not been afraid to voice his defiance against the war.
While doing so, however, he has been training with his club as normal and Ederson has admitted the squad are doing their best to provide him with strength.
He said: ‘It’s a very difficult moment for him. It’s his country. His family are there. Living these anguishing moments. For us who don’t live there it is difficult.
‘Can you imagine what it is like for him? It is hard to see your teammate suffer and the civilians suffering in the country. It’s a very difficult topic.
‘We try to give him strength and bring some joy into his day but we know how difficult that is. I hope it resolves and the country can get back to normality.
‘It will be very difficult due to the damage being done, the amount of innocent people that are dying due to a war that is nothing to do with them.’
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has opened up on Oleksandr Zinchenko’s recent anguish
Ederson (R) says the squad are trying to give Zinchenko ‘strength’ after the invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine international Zinchenko attended an emotional vigil in St Peter’s Square in the days after the invasion began, and remains vocal in condemning the bloodshed.
Speaking to Gary Lineker, he revealed he has been sent countless videos and pictures of the devastation in his native land and said his people are ‘just surviving’.
‘I’m just crying. It’s already [been] a week – I’m not counting – but even when I drive the car from the training ground, I can just cry from nothing,’ he said.
‘It’s everything in my head. Imagine the place where you were born, where you were growing up and there is just empty ground.
In an emotional interview, Zinchenko said only his family stopped him from defending Ukraine
The defender has been visibly rocked by the bloody turmoil in his country, now in its 13th day
‘I can show you one million pictures and videos of every city in my country which they destroyed.
‘A security operation? Impossible. This is a real war. What they are doing is not acceptable. We need to stop this.
‘People there are sending me facts… they are starving. People are just surviving, sleeping underground and in bunkers.’
On his wish to defend Ukraine from Vladimir Putin’s forces, he added: ‘I’ll be honest, if not for my daughter, my family, I would be there.
Vlada Scheglova, 26 and Zinchenko’s partner, wept when they attended a vigil last month
‘I’m just born like that. I know the people from my country, the mentality of them and all of them 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… there are no words.
‘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].’
Zenit St Petersburg goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk broke ranks from other Russian footballers to say his team-mates can’t hide behind ‘separating politics and sports’.
Russian footballers have largely remained silent over the aggression from Vladimir Putin
In an Instagram post, Artem Dzyuba expressed his pride at being Russian but condemned war
National team captain Artem Dzyuba, meanwhile, labelled war as ‘frightful’ but spoke of his pride in his nationality and hit back at Ukrainian stars who have criticised him.
In the same interview with the BBC, Zinchenko has blasted Russian players for not using their platforms to speak out against the aggression from their homeland.
‘I was surprised that no one from all of them,’ he said.
‘Most of them play in the national team, and they have a lot of followers on Instagram and Facebook, at least they can say.
‘They have positions but they just ignore it, I don’t know why.’
Ukrainian troops inspect a charred Russian tank that was destroyed on the outskirts of Sumy
After the war reached its 13th day, Ukrainian paratroopers have begun fighting Russian special forces in hand-to-hand combat near Kyiv.
Stas, a paratrooper who spoke to AFP, says Russian are now fighting street-to-street in places such as Irpin and Bucha in an attempt to surround the capital city.
‘In some places, there is hand-to-hand combat,’ Stas said. ‘There is a huge column – 200 men, 50 light armoured vehicles, several tanks,’ he said of the Russian threat.
‘We are trying to push them out, but I don’t know if we’ll be fully able to do it.’
Russian troops continue to try and encircle Kyiv ahead of what is set to be an attack on the city
Ukraine war: The latest
- Russia refloats plans to open humanitarian corridors. Kyiv calls the proposal a publicity stunt
- Ukrainian servicemen and fleeing residents describe ferocious fighting on Kyiv’s northwestern edge, including hand-to-hand combat
- 18 people, including two children, died in an air strike on the city of Sumy
- Ukraine’s military claims Russian general Vitaly Gerasimov is killed in fighting near Kharkiv
- Russia steps up its shelling of Gostomel near Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolayiv in the southwest
- Tens of thousands are still trapped without water or power in the southern port of Mariupol after two failed evacuation attempts
- At least 13 people are killed by shelling at an industrial bakery in Makariv, west of Kyiv
- Nearly all of Russia’s 150,000 combat troops arrayed on Ukraine’s border have now entered the country
- The International Atomic Energy Agency receives reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv
- White House says there is no agreement with European allies on a blanket ban on oil and gas imports
- The World Bank approves an additional $489million package for Ukraine, made available immediately
- Russia says it will allow Russian companies and individuals to repay debts to creditors in ‘hostile’ nations in rubles
- US-based Morgan Stanley says a Russian default on sovereign debts will come as soon as next month
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is not sending conscripts or reservists to fight
- Kyiv’s presidential advisor says talks with Russia brought some ‘positive results’, while Moscow’s lead negotiator said aims were ‘not fulfilled’
- Turkey announces it will host Russia’s and Ukraine’s foreign ministers for talks Thursday.
- Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announces
- The UN says 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine, making it the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II