Manchester City training Ukrainian refugee footballer who fled Moscow following Russian invasion

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Kravchuk Zinchenko

Manchester City are helping to train a Ukrainian refugee footballer who fled Moscow following the Russian invasion of his homeland.

Andrii Kravchuk, who is a former youth team-mate of City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, was playing for Torpedo Moscow in the Russian second tier when his homeland was invaded.

The 23-year-old has been offered the chance to train with the club’s elite development squad to maintain his form and fitness after his contract was terminated.

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How did he escape?

Kravchuk was on a pre-season training camp in Turkey when he received a call at 5am from his mother that Russia had started bombing Ukraine.

His family have remained in the capital Kyiv, with his brother fighting alongside his country’s armed forces.

He fled to Manchester and has been allowed to train with City following approval from the UK government, the Football Association and the Premier League.

What has been said?

The former Ukraine under-17 and under-21 international took part in his first training session at City’s Etihad Campus on Thursday.

“I am so grateful to Manchester City for giving me this chance to train with them,” he said. "I haven’t seen Oleks for a while but he has always been helpful for me – even going back to when we were together at Shakhtar. We’ve had a chat and I’m really happy to be here with him.

“The past few weeks and months have been so difficult, but to be back on the pitch means so much to me.

"There were nice people around me at the club but I was playing in a country that invaded my homeland. Leaving the club was the only decision. People in Ukraine would not understand me if I continued to play there."

How does he know Zinchenko?

Kravchuk first met the Ukraine captain when they were aged 11 and 13 at Shakhtar Donetsk’s youth academy more than a decade ago.

“While I wish the circumstances were very different, it has been good to be back with Andrii,” Zinchenko said.

“I know how much football means to him, and how it can help us during these difficult times. I would like to thank my club for giving him the opportunity to train with us.”

Zinchenko, who has been given warm support across football, has spoken about how he has struggled to comprehend the invasion and how he wishes he was able to return to his country to aid in the fight.

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