Vincent Kompany’s final message to his Manchester City team-mates was to make sure they win the Champions League.
Kompany brought an end to his 11-year stay at City on Sunday, to become player-manager at his first club, Anderlecht.
Hours after helping City complete an historic treble by trouncing Watford in the FA Cup final, Kompany told the squad and their families at a party at the Wembley Hilton: ‘The Champions League, it’s the only one we’re missing.’
Vincent Kompany’s final message to Man City team-mates was to win the Champions League
The 33-year-old captain had considered a one-year extension at the Etihad but performed a U-turn after learning of interest from Anderlecht, the club he joined as a six-year-old.
‘Countless times have I imagined this day,’ Kompany said yesterday. ‘After all, the end has felt nearby for so many years. Man City has given me everything. I’ve tried to give back as much as I possibly could. The time has come for me to go now.
‘With that, I will also put a bit of Manchester in the heart of Belgium. As overwhelming as it is, I feel nothing but gratefulness.’
City’s stars are desperate to take Kompany up on his challenge to conquer Europe and are mindful that success in the Champions League will dictate how they are viewed.
Kompany gave an address to his team-mates following FA Cup final victory over Watford
City manager Pep Guardiola said: ‘People cannot expect us to repeat the treble or four titles in one season. That is something one team does once in their lifetime. I’m not focused at the start of the season thinking: “I have to win one title, two, three or four,” never.
‘I know we will be judged at the end on whether we win the Champions League. I know unless we do that it will not be enough.’
Kompany will say a farewell to City fans on Monday, when they parade the Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Community Shield around Manchester city centre.
Kompany has a testimonial game in September and his celebratory year is expected to raise more than £1million for his homeless charity, Tackle4MCR.
‘I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club,’ he said.
‘I remember the first day, as clear as I see the last. I remember the boundless kindness I received from the people of Manchester. I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times.
Manager Pep Guardiola paid a glowing tribute to Kompany upon his departure
‘Against the odds, you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up. Sheik 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.’
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the City chairman, said: ‘There have been many important contributors to Manchester City’s renaissance, but arguably none are more important than Vincent Kompany.
‘He defines the essence of the club. For a decade he has been the lifeblood, the soul and beating heart of a supremely talented squad.
‘A booming voice in the dressing room yet a quiet and measured ambassador off it, Vincent can be as proud of himself as we are of him. He will always be part of the City family.’
Kompany is expected to return to City in some guise in the future, with the Premier League champions convinced that he is integral to their progress.
Club sources told Sportsmail they believe Kompany can take on any role within football or business. He has already taken his coaching badges.
City’s European hopes were dashed this year at the hands of Premier League rivals Tottenham
Guardiola added: ‘When Vincent was fit, he took such an important role in our team — unfortunately sometimes that couldn’t happen — but whenever he played, he did so with pride, passion and desire.
‘His spirit has been incredible. He was so important for us in the final weeks of this season and against Leicester he shot with a real desire to score that goal. It will be so difficult to replace Vinnie. ‘Everyone has their strengths but Vincent is special. We will miss him. I will miss him a lot.
‘I wish him the very best in the next stage of his life, but he is an incredible part of this football club and will remain so for ever.’