Abu Dhabi: Manchester City and City Football Group Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak heaped praise on forward Erling Haaland calling him a special player and warned rivals that it is just the start for the star performer after winning a treble this season.
“What amazed me about Erling is the confidence. He’s got something special. Post signing the contract, he said ‘I’m here to win the Champions League for Manchester City and we’re going to win it.’ That’s a year ago. It is really a testament to the greatness of this player. And to show you where Erling is going, this is the beginning, that’s the scary part,” Al Mubarak said in an interview.
Al Mubarak added that the winning mentality of Haaland is such that he is never satisfied with his performance even after scoring five goals. “The beauty of Erling is that he’s a champion. He’s never satisfied. After scoring five goals, he was telling me, ‘I should have scored another three or four’, genuinely not joking. Like in his mind, he knows ‘I should have probably scored seven that night or even eight that night’. That’s the winning mentality, the winning recipe, which you know is intangible. In Erling, we have an unbelievable player.”
'Years of passion'
City Chairman felt relieved after winning the Champions League and thanked Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice-President and Deputy Prime Minister of UAE and Minister of Presidential Court, and the owner of the City Football Group, for his unwavering support to the club.
“Sheikh Mansour has given everything to this club, given all the commitment, years of support, love, he’s given passion to the club. And at the pinnacle, the final of the Champions League, to be there, to be able to attend it is special. He has so much love for this club and working with him over the last 15 years as part of City Football Group, he deserves this,” Al Mubarak added.
The City Chairman was proud of the Etihad club’s consistency over the last decade and aims to create a new modern legacy in Premier League and to add Super Cup and the Club World Cup to the glittering trophy cabinet.
“We’re arguably one of the most consistent teams in the Champions League for the last 10 years. If you look at just the last five years: quarter-finals, quarter-finals, final, semi-finals, final and winning. So, there’s a consistency in our performances in the Champions League. I think as a team, we are very mature as an organisation and very mature as a club overall. I hope and I wish that we can just take this now to another level. The Etihad is becoming what we always hoped for, which is truly the 12th man we always needed, thank you to the fans for that.
“Our consistency in the Premier Leauge is actually the record I’m most proud of because it’s a testament to everything we’re doing and all the hard work that this club and every employee, everyone associated with the club. What’s so special about Manchester City and about this group is the winning mentality, this winning mentality that produces the consistency.
“We’re building a legacy for this club, a new modern legacy. And this modern legacy is in the modern Premier League and it’s the last 10 years, it’s the last 15 years. And I think in that, what Manchester City continues to achieve, today the Treble has only been achieved once. It is incredible, which is why it’s only been done once 24 years ago. We did it the hard way and we did it with the highest level of football that I think I’ve ever seen.”
Al Mubarak also addressed a variety of other subjects, including the role of skipper Ilkay Gundogan, Julian Alvarez and the relief he has now after manager Pep Guardiola has extended his contract.
“It was very important because he’s such an important part of this club. He’s an incredible leader. I knew where Pep’s heart was and I knew where his mind was. So, I think I was never really concerned. We’ve had these conversations before. But the timing was important at the time. It was always very important because it gave clarity,” he said. “It shows you the environment that we have, which is a special. It’s a coaching decision for sure from him, from a professional standpoint. But it’s all of that. And I think what we all provide for Pep is all of that. And that’s what’s kept him this long.
“We have so much more to achieve, and the challenge continues, and the journey continues and, hopefully, next year we’ll be able to produce another special year,” he concluded.