“Every club you sign for, they give you the same pitch. Big project, great ambitions, we want to achieve this, we want to achieve that, we want to kick on and be a better team, and I just happened to be lucky that City was the one club that didn’t lie about it.”
I used to think opinion based articles were always my forte. I liked the fact that I had more than half an eye on the other side of the football. The emotional perspective and the scapegoats always appealed to me rather than the victors. And while that may lead to a less objective view of the footballing world, I still like myself for it. Emotions are what football is all about, no matter how much technology is implemented into the game, no matter how many times you dissect and break down an aspect of a match into finer pieces, the emotions always last while others don’t. So when I was tasked with the opportunity to write about a player who has been closest to my heart, my idol, the one whom I love to no end, I found myself to be a bit of a hypocrite. It’s not because I don’t know enough about him or that I’m incompetent enough to write about this player, it is because words can never describe how I feel about Vincent Kompany.
It’s always the hope that kills you. You wish that you grow up with your hero and that they will always be there for you, but they won’t. It’s the way of life. Manchester City fans wished that they never saw the back of Vincent Kompany’s career at the club. Not only because he was a great player, but because he was a one-in-a-million. To say that he understood the club would be an understatement. He was the main benefactor of the seismic transition that the club had undergone, but most importantly, he knew what it meant to be a Mancunian.
The term ‘Adopted Manc’ describes exactly that, if not more. He moulded his personality around the club and its fans. The little Mancunian twang in his speech which developed over his eleven-year stay at the club, that he married into a Manchester-based family, and the fact that he has given and done so much for the people of the city he temporarily resided in is a testament to the fact that Kompany is more than a footballer looking for a decent paycheck; he is a model professional and an exceptional human being.
Back in his hometown, Kompany owns BX Brussels, a third-tier club dedicated to giving the disadvantaged opportunities through engagement in sport. His charitable donations to his father’s native Congo aim to support vulnerable children by providing a safe home within a family-based model, as well as primary health care and education. ‘Tackle4MCR’, another one of his ventures that works to address homelessness in Manchester, gained a lot of traction after his testimonial in September, where over a million pounds were raised for the cause.
🗣️We caught up with @VincentKompany to talk about how he felt about becoming an honorary graduate, his MBA @AllianceMBS, helping the homeless @tackle4mcr with @AndyBurnhamGM, his wife @CarlaKompany, @ManCity, and a whole host of other things pic.twitter.com/dqL2pFzjcG
— The University of Manchester (@OfficialUoM) October 11, 2019
The Belgian was brought in before the infamous Abu Dhabi takeover and laid the foundations of the club in the big-time. He had a telling part in the transformation of the definition of ‘Typical City’ – a moniker used mainly by City fans of old when the team let them down when they least expected it. One could never associate the current City side with that, why? Because of icons like Vincent Kompany. An important player in the Mark Hughes era, it wasn’t until the 2011/12 season where he got the captaincy permanently.
Taking over the leadership from Carlos Tevez in the latter stages of the 2010/2011 season, vis-a-vis his falling out with Roberto Mancini, delivered one of the most important transitions in Manchester City history. Kompany ended up as the most successful captain of the club, lifting an FA Cup trophy, 4 League Cups and 4 Premier League trophies – one shy of the record John Terry had set as Chelsea captain. Under his influence, the Premier League saw one of the most domineering reigns in its history.
I once read a line in an article that said, ‘Vincent Kompany is Manchester City, Manchester City is Vincent Kompany‘. I do not know why, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I realise that it is quite corny, but it’s true.
Manchester City would never have been in the position they find themselves in if they could not rely on their defensive stalwart time and time again.
Without their captain, there would be no ‘Agüero moment’. That goal forever etched in the memories of many a football fan as perhaps the greatest moment in Premier League history, would not have been possible had Kompany not scored in the Manchester Derby nearly a fortnight prior. Two years later, he turned up once again as a goalscorer against West Ham United on the last day of the season to secure City’s 4th league title while under pressure from Liverpool.
And when the only Premier League side to hold Manchester City on for 70 minutes in the penultimate match of the 2018/19 Premier League season started to crumble, Vincent Kompany led his team to their fourth league title in eight years.
“Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?” – Gary Neville remarked in an astounded Etihad Stadium as he witnessed the moment where it was all but confirmed – Kompany’s rasping 30-yard drive into the top corner was an instant classic, another legendary moment at the Etihad Stadium, this time at the hands of its most adored servant. His unlikely, yet likely strike at the death typified the nature of a true leader. In times of turmoil and distress, Vinny Kompany always saved the day.
As it turned out, it was the perfect fairytale ending to his illustrious Manchester City career. Never has a player in City history attached himself to the hearts and minds of the fans like the Belgian. He garnered the sweeping adoration of the fans, probably more so than any other player in City’s recent history. He said his goodbyes to the club after winning the domestic treble – an unprecedented feat in English football history.
What he left behind, was his incorruptible legacy. His love for Manchester City was there for all to see, in every victory and every goal he scored.
I could never narrow down my favourite Kompany moment, that is, until the final game of his City career at the Etihad Stadium. The goal which inevitably handed the title to City, after an excruciating battle against Liverpool until the final day of the season – was his first and only goal from outside the box. It was inevitable. It wasn’t just the fact that it was my favourite player scoring a goal, unlikely as it is for a defender, but also the passionate, boyish celebrations that ensued. The elation, discernable with his entire body pumping up and down the pitch was a sign that there was no greater love in Vinny’s eyes than the blue half of Manchester.
He celebrated each goal as it was the last he’d ever score, and as silly as it may sound, it made me love him even more. There’s something about a goal celebration like that of the Belgian centre-back’s which reminded me that football is not all about the negatives. It’s not all about the money, it’s not all about ulterior motives. Sometimes, all that is needed to reinstate your faith in the purity of football is a picture of sheer, unbridled joy – perhaps that is one of the most important reasons why Vincent Kompany holds a huge place in my heart and the hearts of millions of other fans.
In the 69th minute of action against Preston North End in mid-September, 6000 away fans at Deepdale drowned out the collective voices of the Preston faithful, singing, “Here’s to you, Vincent Kompany, City loves you more than you will know.” Four months after his departure to RSC Anderlecht, he still remains and will remain the most influential player in Manchester City history, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. He left the Premier League as one of its greatest defenders and one of the greatest captains. To me, he will forever remain the most influential leader I’ve seen. So here’s to you, Vincent Kompany, City loves you more than you could ever comprehend.
Written by Anaamaya Mishra
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