EVER-PRESENT Illia Zabarnyi thanked his boss Andoni Iraola for his trust as the centre-back continued his streak in the Cherries starting line-up.

A winter signing in 2023 from Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kyiv for a reported £24million, Zabarnyi’s first six months in England saw him waiting on the sidelines for his chance.

But since the arrival of Andoni Iraola in the summer, the 21-year-old has been installed as first-choice at the back for Cherries.


Zabarnyi is now the only Cherry to have played every minute of their Premier League campaign, the Ukrainian international with 2,160 minutes in 29 games.

And that is not something the 34-time international is taking for granted.

He told the Daily Echo: “I'm really happy to play every minute.

“I thank the gaffer for trusting me, it’s very important for me.

“I’m just proud of my team. They help a lot.

“I just want to say thank you to them.”

Asked if he was targeting the accomplishment of playing every minute until the end of the season, Zabarnyi replied: “Yeah, I would say it's important.

“Because maybe I just need some more improvement.

“Every minute for me, it's for my character, it's important.

“I feel very good.”

Zabarnyi also touched upon targets for the entire team.

He explained: “Everyone in the team knows what we can do and we just want to get higher up the table and not stop.

“It doesn't matter who we play, we think we can get maximum points against them.

Regular game time in the Premier League leaves Zabarnyi in a good spot heading into the summer, where he will feature for Ukraine at the Euros in Germany.

The centre-half helped his war-torn country reach the major tournament last week, Ukraine defeating Israel and Iceland in the play-offs to book their spot.

Having previously represented his country at the Euros in 2021, Zabarnyi feels he is a better player than he was at his first major tournament.

“It was a big moment,” Zabarnyi continued.

“I am proud to play for my country and our qualification was for all the people in Ukraine. They deserve it.

“When I played at the previous Euros, I had only just started to play in the team but now I feel established and I want to help show the world how Ukraine can play.”

In the comeback win over Luton Town shortly before the international break Zabarnyi reached another milestone by scoring his first goal for Cherries.

Zabarnyi will hope to make it 30 starts from 30 games tomorrow evening when Cherries host Crystal Palace at Vitality Stadium (7.45pm).