This Sunday morning, Vincent Kompany wrote an open letter glowing with affirmation and appreciation to announce he’s leaving Manchester City after 11 years.
I’d like to focus on some different words.
Speaking to television reporters after Saturday’s FA Cup victory over Watford, the 10th trophy Kompany captained to the blue half of Manchester this century, he admitted one game in particular gave the club belief it could rip off a run like this.
“When I joined the club it was never on the cards to even win one trophy,” Kompany said. “Actually, beating Rio’s (Ferdinand) team in the semifinal, Man United, was what started it off for us. That’s who we started believing we could win trophies.”
That’s when I first grew to adore Kompany, too. Back then, there had been years of bluster coming from Manchester City, infused with countless cash sums thanks to a takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in the summer of 2008. But where was the bite?
The bite arrived in the 2010-11 season, when Kompany helped lead City to a 1-0 victory over United in the semifinals of the FA Cup, which City ultimately won a month later to snap a 35-year trophy drought.
The following campaign, Kompany and City did the double over United in the Premier League, including a seismic 6-1 result in October and a title-tilting 1-0 victory in late April, during which Kompany scored the decisive goal.
A trap had been sprung on United from inside Manchester. It wasn’t the death throes for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils epoch, but it was close, a Sky Blue signal that Premier League supremacy had shifted four miles to the northeast.
Kompany, in many ways, was the face of it. His composure, his class, his quality, they sold you on this particular super-club. City was rich; Kompany had the look of a commoner. City was flashy; Kompany was passionate. City was noisy; Kompany was not.
His steady hand (or feet) guided Manchester City through the new realities of the Premier League. Ball-playing center backs who offer threat on set pieces are now integral in England, which is as rough and tumble as any marquee league on the planet and therefore more bereft of straightforward scoring chances.
Kompany adds an extra dimension to City’s set-ups for this very reason.
Bulwark bosses like Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have gone by the wayside in favor of managerial carousels that keep everyone on their toes and punish whiffs of failure.
From Roberto Mancini to Manuel Pellegrini to now Pep Guardiola, no Man City manager stood a chance of failure with Kompany as their captain.
How much Kompany has meant to the club is remarkable in comparison to how much he cost the club. Kompany was only the fifth-most expensive signing during the new ownership’s first spending spree in 2008, and 57 players have cost City more on the transfer market.
Only two other players, Sergio Aguero and David Silva, have been part of all four of City’s title-winning teams this past decade. Only two other players, Nemanja Vidic and Virgil van Dijk, have been named Premier League Player of the Season as a defender.
Now is not the time. Now is the time to recognize a great player who is by all accounts a good man, and one of the best salesmen both Manchester City and the Premier League could ever ask for.
It says something that Kompany isn’t pursuing an opportunity with another giant, perhaps in pursuit of elusive Champions League glory. He’ll become the player-manager at Anderlecht in Belgium, where he got his start as a youth and a professional.
It says his keen awareness extends well beyond the spine of City’s formations. It says his loyalty and stewardship haven’t been a facade.
As has always been the case with Vincent Kompany, his actions speak loudest of all.
Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.
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