The Academy graduate watched the Catalan giants claim the European trophy on his 11th birthday and now he wants to win it for the same coach
Pep Guardiola’s great Barcelona side helped inspire Phil Foden’s love of football, the Manchester City forward has admitted.
Foden celebrated his 11th birthday by watching that brilliant Barca team tear apart Manchester United 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final.
On Friday, he will turn 21 on the day before his boyhood club play their first Champions League final against Chelsea – with Guardiola now his manager and trying to win the competition for the first time since that victory at Wembley.
What’s been said?
“When I used to watch Barcelona as a kid, it was unbelievable; the way he set them up and how they played one-touch and two-touch football was unbelievable, and I never would have thought that he would be my coach some day,” Foden said.
“I feel very lucky to have him as a coach and I enjoy it every day, working with him. I just remember growing up and they dominated football for years, winning everything.
“I just remember always watching it with my Dad and thinking: ‘Wow! What a team this is and what a coach they have!’ He has tried to bring that kind of football here and it seems to be working.
“Definitely, they played a big part in my career, watching them when I was younger, and it helps as well, now that the manager’s here. I understand how he plays and how he wants to play. It helps a lot.”
The bigger picture
Guardiola faced some criticism for holding Foden back early in his career but the England international has now become a key part of the City side.
He has started 11 of their 12 European games this season and scored in both legs of the quarter-final victory over Borussia Dortmund.
“There weren’t many young kids at my age playing in a team like this,” Foden said. “A lot of people were complaining about the minutes and things, but the team that we have here and how many quality players we had at the time, it was very difficult to get in.
“I just kept believing in myself and trusting the manager. This year has been really good for me, playing more minutes and I would definitely say it has paid off.”
And the Stockport-born star admits he and his family are stunned that he is playing in a final a decade on from that remarkable Barca victory.
“They just keep telling me that they can’t believe that I’m going to play in the Champions League final, from watching it when I was younger,” he added.
“I’m just going to go into the final the same way as any other game: just smiling and saying let’s see how it goes. Nothing’s going to change how I prepare. Everything’s just going to be the same.”