Vincent Kompany: A leader and a legend who turned a dream into reality at Manchester City
- Vincent Kompany goes out at the top following huge success at Manchester City
- The defender turned a dream into a reality as City went in pursuit of trophies
- City hope he will return to the club one day and Kompany feels it will happen
It says everything about Vincent Kompany that having declared Manchester City ‘the best team in the world’ in the aftermath of their FA Cup win at Wembley, he was prepared to walk away from the club.
Most players would be tempted to ride the gravy train for another season, to keep playing for this magnificent team and pick up the trophies that will almost certainly come City’s way over the next 12 months. Not Kompany.
He has always followed his own path and did so again on Sunday morning by announcing that he is leaving the Etihad after 11 years to take over as player-manager of his old team Anderlecht.
Vincent Kompany leaves City as the first captain in English football to win the domestic treble
The defender, pictured with fellow long-time Manchester City star David Silva, will go down in the club’s history having turned their dream into a reality
Kompany, pictured with Mark Hughes, arrived at City from Hamburg in 2008
Kompany goes out at the top after becoming the first captain in English football to win the domestic treble. Throw in the Community Shield and it’s four trophies this season and 12 in total during his stellar career at the club.
He will go down in history at City. A leader and a legend who did arguably more than any other to turn the Abu Dhabi dream into reality.
However, unease has been growing in Kompany’s camp for some time over how long it took City to offer an extension to his contract, no doubt mindful of his injury record at the age of 33. When it came, the offer was understood to be heavily based on appearances next season.
The door was open and Anderlecht stepped in. Kompany’s agent Jacques Lichtenstein was involved in the takeover of the fallen Belgian giants last year and is likely to have played a key role.
There were questions over whether Kompany could adapt to Pep Guardiola’s style at City
Kompany scored the winner against Manchester United in 2012 en route to the title
Shortly after Kompany’s announcement, the club where he spent 14 years from the age of six confirmed his shock appointment alongside the hashtag #returnoftheprince.
It was growing up in the Brussels district of Uccle and playing for Anderlecht that Kompany learned to have the courage of his convictions.
His late mother Jocelyne was a union leader and his father Pierre, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was voted Belgium’s first black mayor last year.
‘It was normal for us to go to youth tournaments and be called monkeys — parents shouting it,’ Kompany told The Guardian at the weekend. ‘That would nearly cause a fist fight with my mother. We were taught to be stronger.’
He was kicked out of the Belgium youth squad after a row with the coach, but three years later became his country’s youngest senior international at the age of 17 when he also rejected Sir Alex Ferguson’s advances to join Manchester United.
Kompany celebrates City’s Premier League title success in 2014 with his family
Even the move to City was prompted by a falling out with one of the directors at SV Hamburg.
‘I just said “I’m not playing for you any more”,’ recalled Kompany on the 10th anniversary of his signing last year. ‘Every club you sign for give you the same pitch — we’ve got a big project, great ambition, we want to achieve this and that. I just happened to be lucky that City were the one club that didn’t lie about it.’
He was the last player through the door before the Abu Dhabi takeover in the summer of 2008, arriving just days before the transformation began, for what now seems a ridiculously low fee of £6million.
City didn’t have a suitable room in which to unveil Kompany at their Carrington training ground so they had to use one next door at Sale Sharks instead.
He remembers the doors were missing on two of the toilet cubicles at City and the looks of incredulity when he asked for a cup of coffee. ‘Everyone was like, “no, in England we drink tea”.’ Almost overnight, record signing Robinho appeared and so did a coffee machine.
Kompany hadn’t even known his team-mates’ names when he made his debut as a midfielder against West Ham after one training session weeks earlier, bonding with them that evening in a nightclub.
It became clear, however, that he was not your average footballer. A deep thinker, Kompany graduated with a Masters degree in business in 2017 and reads widely.
His Belgium team-mates call him ‘Obama’ because of his statesmanlike demeanour.
Roberto Mancini had another name for him after replacing Mark Hughes as City boss. The Professor. It was something he only said behind Kompany’s back because he thought the player took himself too seriously.
Mancini also hated the fact that Kompany had grown close to the club’s executives — but it didn’t stop him making the centre back captain in 2011 after Carlos Tevez went AWOL.
‘He had a vision of how a captain should be,’ said Kompany. ‘But I can’t be the captain the manager wants to be, I have to be the captain that I want to be. If that’s not good enough, I can live with it.’
Having helped secure City’s first trophy in 35 years when they overcame United en route to winning the FA Cup that season, Kompany’s seismic header against Ferguson’s side put his team on course to snatch the title the following year.
He scored another big goal to clinch the championship on the final day under Manuel Pellegrini in 2014, although he was not always comfortable enforcing the Chilean coach’s rules and fines on his team-mates.
City hope he will return to the club one day and Kompany feels that it will happen
Even under Guardiola — a man he credited on Sunday for ‘reigniting my love for football’ — there were questions over his ability to be the ball-playing centre back the manager demanded or overcome the chronic muscle injuries that threatened his career.
His last home game will go down in City folklore after Kompany’s 30-yard blockbuster clinched victory over Leicester and, in effect, another title. The tears that flowed afterwards suggested it might be his farewell.
Kompany’s last home game will go down in City folklore after his crucial goal vs Leicester
‘Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?’ screamed Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville that night. Fans have already started an online petition.
His Mancunian wife Carla and their three children are expected to follow him to Brussels.
City hope he will return to the club one day and Kompany feels it will happen.
‘I will be connected with City for the rest of my life — as a fan, employee, ambassador, it doesn’t matter,’ he said last year. ‘Whatever City decide or I decide it’s not something we can undo. We’re tied to each other for life.’
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