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26th Feb 2022

Zinchenko and Mykolenko in tears during moving Goodison show of support for Ukraine

Simon Lloyd

Moving scenes at Goodison

Ukrainian internationals Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vitaliy Mykolenko were both moved to tears ahead of Manchester City’s visit to Everton on Saturday, as the importance of football was once again put sharply into perspective.

City’s Zinchenko was seen seeking out the Everton full-back as the two teams warmed up before Saturday’s Premier League game at Goodison Park, the pair sharing an emotional embrace.

Events in the players’ homeland, which was invaded by Russian troops during the week, have dominated headlines globally as Europe faces up to what is potentially the biggest war the continent has seen in decades.

Everton players came out of the changing room with Ukrainian flags draped around their shoulders before kick-off, while City’s squad wore white shirts with the flag and a ‘No War’ message across the front. Huge banners in support of Ukraine and its people were also seen in the Goodison stands.

Everton decided to remove their usual pre-match air raid siren following events in Ukraine this week, and the Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother played over the stadium’s speaker before kick-off instead. As the song played, Zinchenko and Mykolenko  – who were named as substitutes – were both moved to tears.

Earlier in the week, Zinchenko had joined protesters at an anti-war vigil in Manchester city centre. On Thursday morning, he claimed that Instagram had deleted his post about Vladimir Putin in which he said he hoped the Russian president would suffer the ‘most painful suffering death.’

It read: “I hope you die the most painful suffering death, creature.”

The 25-year-old had said on Tuesday that he ‘can’t stand back’ while ‘the whole civilised world is concerned about my country’ as well as an emotional Instagram post.

His statement said: “I can’t stay back and strive to put my point across. In the photo – my country. The country where I was born and raised.

“A country whose colours I defend in the international sports arena. A country that we try to glorify and develop.

“A country whose borders must remain inviolable. My country belongs to Ukrainians and no one will ever be able to appropriate it. We will not give up! Glory to Ukraine.”

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