Oleksandr Zinchenko has revealed how coming through a period of adversity earlier in his career has helped mould his development into becoming a key part of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad.
The Ukrainian midfielder turned left-back has been in a rich vein of form over the past few months and delivered a superb individual performance in last weekend’s Carabao Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
His consistency, adaptability and positive attitude earned Zinchenko special praise for manager Pep Guardiola earlier this week, with the boss describing him as ‘incredible’.
Last Sunday’s Wembley success added to the Premier League and League Cup winners’ medals the 22-year-old collected last season with the Blues.
And with City competing for success on three more fronts – in the league, Champions League and FA Cup - there could yet be more silverware in the offing this term.
But as reflected on his progress with the Blues, Zinchenko revealed that he had had to cope with tough spells in the three years since he joined City in the summer of 2016, especially during a period when he was out on loan with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
And he said he believed those experiences have only served to help his career progression with the Club.
“When I joined (City in 2016), the whole situation was that I wanted to be here all the time but we decided (for me) to go out on loan with PSV Eindhoven,” Zinchenko recalled.
“To be honest, I had a tough period when I was with PSV in Holland. I didn’t play there for some reasons and I was upset for a few months.
“After that I did some analysis about myself and there was no point (being like that).
“You have to be professional and you have to accept your situation and improve yourself. Only this way you can become a good player, a top player.
“There was a tough period for me (in the 2015/16 season).
“I got an injury near the end of the season when I played in Russia with FC Ufa and then it was Euro 2016 and I was involved in every game (with Ukraine).
“Just a few days later after the Euros, I signed for City and joined the club.
“I didn’t have rest and that was (also) a tough period for me.
“Yes (I learned from all that). And I am still learning.”
As Guardiola alluded in his press conference before the West Ham game, Zinchenko could have left the Club last summer with a number of sides keen on his services.
But Zinchenko said he was always determined to stay and both fight for his place and be part of what he describes as an ‘unbelievable’ City dressing room atmosphere.
“It was always my dream to play for this club, to be fair. It is a big pleasure to be part of it and I want to try to do my best. I want to be here,” Zinchenko added speaking after our 1-0 midweek win over West Ham.
“I cannot describe this atmosphere before the game and after the game. It was unbelievable. One thing I can say is it is a big pleasure to be part of this club.
“Everyone here is such a professional player and we just helping each other in the dressing room before the game and during the game. That helps a lot.”
A hugely popular figure within the first team squad, Zinchenko also paid special tribute to the help and advice he has been afforded by captain Vincent Kompany in helping him adapt to his vital defensive role.
“I can’t choose,” Zinchenko said when asked if had a best friend in the dressing room. “(I have) good friendships with everyone. I can say Vincent Kompany because a few times he is with me on the pitch after training sessions and show me some details.