Born in Radomyshl, Ukraine. Forced to flee to Russia. Training on the streets until the age of 18. Signed for £1.8million at age 19.
Manchester City means everything to Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Oleksandr Zinchenko means everything to Manchester City.
Images of the left-back on the final whistle encapsulated what it is currently like to be a Citizen. The years of hurt. The missed opportunities and the squandered chances. Man City were where they had been working so hard to get, and it was almost too hard to believe. Almost.
Zinchenko epitomises a Pep Guardiola player. Transformed from an attacking midfielder to a defender. Thrown into the squad a youngster and can now be trusted in a crucial Champions League game, with the in-form Joao Cancelo demoted to the bench.
There has always been uncertainty among the supporters around the Ukrainian and his performances, but his display against Paris Saint-Germain in the semifinal second leg proved how much the 22-year-old loves his club, just like any other normal fan.
Although an extremely impressive 90 minutes from him, Zinchenko was unable to hide his emotions when the familiar shrieking whistle rang around an empty Etihad Stadium.
Some ran, others jumped on one another, Guardiola stayed professional, not even cracking a smirk. Zinchenko, however, dropped to the floor immediately, head in hands as if to hide his tears, but nothing could cover up his passion and pride that radiated from City’s number 11.
His pride was more than justified. Winning 100% of his duels against the likes of Neymar, Marco Verratti and Angel Di Maria, and making it look easy in the process. Defensively, the one moment that stood out was when Ruben Dias finally needed assistance, and the Ukrainian was there to back the centre-back up, staying on his feet before throwing himself at a Neymar goal-bound shot from close range.
As well as his defensive prowess, with the third-most tackles of any City player, Zinchenko left the field with the most passes made and the best passing accuracy of any other player in sky blue.
Sensible in the tackle. Aggressive, when needed. Conservative, playing smart. Bombarding forward, threatening the PSG backline with every attack.
The talking point for the City fans, the pundits, the neutrals, was his contribution to City’s taking of first blood. A mesmerising punt upfield from goalkeeper Ederson found the left-back in PSG’s last third. In the blink of an eye, the French side were undone. Zinchenko’s attacking brain switched on, as a sweeping pass into the middle found the only man you would want on the edge of the box - Kevin De Bruyne.
It seemed as though the attack had fizzled out when the Belgian’s shot was blocked, but Riyad Mahrez was on hand to slot the ball under the onrushing Keylor Navas.
Everyone loves an underdog story. That is exactly what Zinchenko’s rise to stardom has been. From fleeing his country of birth to avoid being caught up in a war, to performing on Europe’s biggest stage.
Zinchenko is living the dream that every football fan wishes to have. Now for one last push. A chance to make history at Manchester City with the club’s first Champions League trophy in its history.