© 2017 The Author(s) The structure of 71Zn was investigated by one-neutron transfer and heavy-ion induced complex (deep-inelastic) reactions using the GRETINA-CHICO2 and the Gammasphere setups, respectively. The observed inversion between the 9/2+ and 1/2− states is explained in terms of the role of neutron pairing correlations. Non-collective sequences of levels were delineated above the 9/2+ isomeric state. These are interpreted as being associated with a modest oblate deformation in the framework of Monte-Carlo shell-model calculations carried out with the A3DA-m Hamiltonian in the pfg9/2d5/2 valence space. Similarities with the structure of Ni402868 were observed and the shape-coexistence mechanism in the N=40 region of neutron-rich nuclei is discussed in terms of the so-called Type-II shell evolution, with an emphasis on proton–neutron correlations between valence nucleons, especially those involving the shape-driving g9/2 neutron orbital.