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4 Dec, 2021 11:57

Russian champions Zenit melt hearts with viral dog gesture (VIDEO)

Russian champions Zenit melt hearts with viral dog gesture (VIDEO)

Russian football giants Zenit St. Petersburg have won praise for a kind-hearted gesture after players took to the pitch while carrying dogs from local animal shelters.

Facing Russian Premier League rivals Rostov at the Gazprom Arena on Friday night, Zenit stars were seen cuddling their furry friends as they lined up for kick-off.

In a particularly tender moment, Russian forward Artem Dzyuba – who stands an imposing 6ft 4in – planted a kiss on the pooch in his arms as he carried it onto the pitch.

“World Pet Day is celebrated annually on 30 November and Zenit have joined forces with the Russian Kynological Foundation to launch our new community project, Dogs are better at home!” the club explained on their website.  

“The aim of the project is to highlight to the public the responsibility and care required when having a pet and to help raise funds for local dog shelters.

"Just before kick off at the Gazprom Arena the Zenit starting XI is announced on the stadium’s video screen, however this time the players will be shown alongside pictures and profiles of real dogs looking for a home," 

The touching gesture warmed the hearts of as a clip of the players and dogs was shared around the world – being viewed more than 2.5 million times.

After thanking fans for their response to the clip, Zenit’s English language account wrote “now let's find homes for these good boys and girls,” sharing a link to how people could help.

Friday's match ended 2-2 after Zenit battled back from a two-goal deficit thanks to a double from Brazilian star Claudinho. 

Zenit remain top of the Premier League standings on 37 points from 17 games, and are on course for what would be a fourth consecutive RPL title.