By his own admission, Vincent Kompany spent the last 45 minutes of his Manchester City career with hands placed on hips. A cathartic half of football surveying Wembley – appreciating the noise, the sense of achievement and the raw ability of his colleagues – with another FA Cup trophy comfortably in the bag.
Watford were two down at the break, eventually beaten by six. Kompany had already told Pep Guardiola two days prior that it was to be his final bow and, looking back, that day represented the perfect farewell. An opportunity to reminisce over 11 years in Manchester.
That feeling will doubtless be exactly the same the next time he travels to the city, and more specifically his former home. From Saturday, there will be a lasting reminder of Kompany’s legacy at the Etihad Stadium, a statue unveiled before the early kick-off with Arsenal alongside that of David Silva. Sergio Aguero’s will follow.
Vincent Kompany is set to be immortalised outside Man City’s Etihad Stadium with a statue
The former defender now managers RSC Anderlecht, but says City are still part of his life
The pose sculpted by artist David Scott is yet to be announced. Among his greatest moments was that barnstorming winner against Leicester City, one steering City towards consecutive Premier League titles a fortnight before the Watford final in 2019.
Gary Neville excitedly asked on commentary where the defender wanted his statue locating as the net bulged that night. A fiver on that goal being immortalised might be a decent bet.
‘I wish I could tell you more about it, I really do,’ Kompany says. ‘What I can tell you is that it was one of the most emotional, meaningful moments I’ve had in my career. For so many reasons, I think it captures extreme pride, extreme sadness. Everything in one moment.
‘It’s still difficult to grasp, it doesn’t feel real. You have ambitions on what you want to achieve and if you’re rewarded for what you mean to a place then that is the ultimate.
Sergio Aguero (left) and David Silva were the other key pillars of City’s team with Kompany
‘You don’t wake up one day dreaming of a statue and I’m quite laid back, but it means so much to my family, my dad. My kids will be able to go to a place where they can remember you, my grandkids will be able to go to a place where they can remember you. The artist has even managed to turn me into something artistic! I’m sure that wasn’t the easiest job he’s had.
‘Nothing would have happened without Kun’s goals and David’s wizardry in midfield. We were all linked to each other, our fate was linked.
‘If you replace David with somebody else and you replace Kun with somebody else, I am sure that a lot of this success would not have been possible. I am grateful but I am all for the team, we achieved it together. City is part of my life.’
Kompany, whose Anderlecht side next play on Sunday evening, is in reflective mood. He remembers the tearful speech made in the Wembley dressing room at the end of a flawless afternoon in picking up his 10th major trophy at the club.
‘That day I just had 45 minutes of taking everything in without any stress, which is a complete luxury in a final,’ Kompany says. ‘I was having a little banter and chat with the opposition strikers.
Kompany was loved at City and fans and his team-mates alive were desperate for him to stay
‘You could kind of just look around and enjoy it, put your hands on your hip and say, ‘hey, David’s a good player,’ or ‘Kun’s nice’. Or applaud a De Bruyne pass, or just give it to Leroy and see what he does.
‘It’s not in my nature or character, but the dressing room [speech] was emotional. It’s nice to see when your teammates kind of don’t want you to go, because you never know – football is quite unemotional.
‘A lot of them came to me, asking me to stay. I know I wasn’t going to be the main guy but knew they felt I could still mean something to them. That was as big a thank you as I could get.
‘I was playing well, we were doing well and there was potentially a future for me at City on the pitch. But at the same time, I felt that I could never leave this club in a better way than that season, winning a treble.
‘I’d swum the channel too many times. I’d got away with injury after injury, the miraculous comebacks, and eventually my luck was going to run out. I just thought stop with winning five trophies in two years. I’m not a gambling man, that was enough for me.’
Kompany gives huge credit to Pep Guardiola after the pair combined so well for more trophies
It is no surprise that Kompany, captain for so long, is bestowed the honour with Silva – arguably the club’s finest ball player ever – and Aguero, the all-time leading scorer. The 35-year-old believes he would have achieved even greater things had his path crossed with Pep Guardiola earlier in what proved a stellar career.
‘I wish I’d met Pep when I was 18,’ he says. ‘I had such a big gap in my understanding of the game until I met him. It’s hard to describe. It’s not about philosophies – everyone can have their own of how to play football – it’s more about understanding space and the consequences of actions you take on the pitch.
‘What if I had him at 18, when I was an animal? That gave me the hunger to be a manager.
‘Not because I want to be like him – I don’t think anyone can equal him, he is his own man – but I wanted to make sure a young player doesn’t have that gap in knowledge. I’ve been impeded by injuries but still had some of my best years with him.’