Manchester: It had to happen at some point. On Sunday, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany made the announcement many fans had been dreading, some of them in denial that their skipper would ever hang up his sky blue City shirt for the last time.
“As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go. And what a season to bow out,” the Belgian said, confirming that he is to leave the club after 11 trophy-laden years.
The 33-year-old Belgian defender joined City from Hamburg in the summer of 2008 and made 360 appearances — he would have had many, many more if not for a series of injuries throughout his time in Manchester — winning four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and two Community Shields. He signed off in style in the FA Cup final on Saturday, where City demolished Watford 6-0 to become the first club in English football history to complete a domestic treble.
“I feel nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club,” he added.
“I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up.
“[Club owner] Shaikh Mansour changed my life and that of all the City fans around the world, for that I am forever grateful. A blue nation has arisen and challenged the established order of things, I find that awesome.”
As gracious as ever, Kompany hailed his teammates past and present who helped him achieve legendary status within the club and the English game.
“It’s cliche to say it but it’s also so true: without my teammates, I would have never been here today,” he said.
“We fought many battles together. Side by side. In good times and in bad. So to all of you, from the 2008-2009 squad to today’s domestic treble winners: I owe you guys. A special word also to Pep and the back room staff: you’ve been superb. You’ve followed me through so much hardship. You made me come back stronger every time. Thank you so much.”
After so many ups and downs — mostly ups — over more than a decade, this will never be an easy parting of company for either the player or the club. Kompany was the last remaining player from the pre-Abu Dhabi years and the transformation he has witnessed first-hand to take City to the top table of world football is astonishing. Guardiola’s side are now considered one of the best on the planet, having secured the treble and defended their Premier League title in ruthless fashion against a relentless Liverpool onslaught.
The one-sided FA Cup final on Saturday was further proof of how far City have come under Kompany’s stewardship, the performance and result helping banish the ghost of 2013 where they lost to Wigan Athletic in the Wembley showpiece match.
While Kompany’s time in the sky blue shirt of City is finally — sadly — at an end, he is adamant he is not hanging up his boots just yet.
“I choose to be grateful for the past but remain ambitious and driven for the future. For the next three years, I will take up the role of player-manager of Anderlecht. Belgium’s finest,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This may come as a surprise to you. It’s the most passionate yet rational decision I’ve ever made.”
As his wonder strike against Leicester City a few weeks ago that helped City on their way to back-to-back Premier League tiles proved, , he still has plenty to offer back home in Belgium with Anderlecht.