Oleksandr Zinchenko admits he's thrilled he doesn't have to face Arsenal legend Tony Adams.
The former Gunners defender is regarded as one of the finest centre-halves of his generation and among the best to play in the Premier League. He led Arsenal to league titles and cups whilst also being a key figure with England during the 1990s.
Adams called time on his career back in 2002 and Zinchenko's compatriot Andriy Shevchenko previously told him that the Arsenal great was the hardest defender he ever came up against. The 26-year-old has now met and chatted with Adams and is happy they won't have to compete on the pitch.
He told Arsenal’s official website : "I asked club photographer Stuart MacFarlane if he would introduce me to Tony and also take a picture. He is absolutely a legend. I’ve seen clips of him playing on the internet, I know about his reputation, but also I remember the words of my ex-national team coach, Andriy Shevchenko.
"He used to always say to me that Tony Adams was the toughest defender he ever faced in his career. I told Tony that when we met. He was laughing, he’s a great guy, Tony is a joker – but what a player he was. Thank God I didn’t have to play against him in my career!"
Adams played in the early Arsene Wenger era, which yielded notable success. Zinchenko was a regular watcher of the Gunners during his childhood and has huge admiration for the players who've worn the club's colours in the past.
"I always watched Arsenal. People know I was an Arsenal supporter when I was a kid," he added. "That was because I loved watching players like Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Dennis Bergkamp too. I watched him but mainly I was watching a bit later, when Robin van Persie was up front with Henry. Cesc was there too and it was a fantastic team."
Zinchenko moved to the team he supported back in the summer, switching from Manchester City as he reunited with Mikel Arteta at the Emirates. Gabriel Jesus also swapped Manchester for north London and the pair have helped the Gunners mount a surprise title charge.
The Ukrainian, who was had to deal with personal struggles amid the invasion of his homeland, won a host of honours during his time with City. He's started seven times for Arsenal this term and Arteta was always confident Zinchenko would add huge value.
He said: "Alex is a high quality player who will give us options and versatility. It's not only about the positions he can play but as well, the versatility he will give us in attack and defence."