It’s no mean achievement having a statue dedicated to you outside the home of the Champions of Europe – a place you called home for the best 10 years of your football career.
It’s an honour reserved for the very best of the best, an eternal symbol of love and respect, recognition of the achievements and loyalty from player to club and vice versa.
David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany are the pantheon of City’s all-time greats immortalised in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium.
The sad irony is that none of the trio managed to win the Champions League during their combined 31 years at City, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. That said, their trophy collection is none too shabby, with a myriad of Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield wins to their names.
‘Legend’ is a word bandied around with unseemly regularity nowadays – devaluing the term and the sentiments which lie behind it – but it more than applies in its purest form to El Mago, Kun and Captain Fantastic.
As such, it’s the most natural thing in the world to pay homage to such iconic players. It’s equally valid to want to give departing heroes the send off they deserve.
Vinny did his famous mic-drop during the ‘Fourmidables’ celebrations, announcing his return to his native Belgium to take his first steps in management with Anderlecht.
Three months later a 50,000+ sell out Etihad crowd had the opportunity to bid Kompany a fabulous farewell at his testimonial game, with proceeds going to help tackle the homelessness situation in Manchester.
It was a fitting send off for a great leader, player and man. Little wonder then that Pep Guardiola has predicted Vincent will one day lead City again, only this time as manager.
The year was 2019.
COVID-19 wasn’t on anyone’s radar. The world was blissfully unaware of the pending pandemic.
Not for one moment would anyone place the temporary shutdown of football – and subsequent exclusion of fans from stadiums, upon its resumption – anywhere remotely on a par with the tragedies inflicted by COVID. Absolutely not!
It did however mean the Etihad was empty on July 26th, 2020, when David played his final Premier League game for City, a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City. By any standards it was an ignominious exit for arguably City’s greatest player of all-time.
COVID restrictions were still ruling the roost when Sergio played his last Premier League match at the Etihad in May 2021. In front of a restricted crowd of just 10,000 he signed off in a more stylish manner, coming on as a second half substitute to score a brace in a 5-0 win over Everton.
At least City’s greatest ever goal scorer had the ‘consolation’ of being a Premier League champion for a fifth time in the pouring rain.
The overarching fact is that, unlike Vinny, neither had the send-off they so richly deserved from their adoring audience at the Etihad.
Sadly, Sergio (33) announced his retirement in December 2021 after he’d experienced chest pains and breathing difficulties, whilst playing for Barcelona in a 1-1 draw with Alaves in the October. He was diagnosed with a heart condition – a cardiac arrhythmia – and stopped playing on medical advice.
He had an amazing goal haul of 260 from 390 appearances, with 73 assists thrown in for good measure. As well as his five Premier League title wins, he won six League Cups an FA Cup and three Community Shields. In his last game for City, he received a Champions League medal, but not the one that would’ve completed his collection.
In the past 24 hours David Silva (37) has brought the curtain down on his illustrious 19-year playing career, after sustaining a serious anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, during pre-season training with Real Sociedad.
Over his decade with City, David played 436 games, creating 141 goals and scoring 77 on the way to winning four Premier League campaigns, five League Cups, two FA Cups and three Community Shields.
Reflecting on his glittering career, one which also included two Copa del Rey wins with Valencia and Real Sociedad and, at international level, a World Cup and two European Championships, David said: “I am a lucky man who has been able to do what he likes most; play football and play it surrounded by the best professionals, teammates and friends you can have.
“I had an amazing decade at Manchester City, where I enjoyed great success, achieving titles such as Premier Leagues, FA Cups and League Cups, in a club that won my heart forever and will always be special to me.”
With both these magnificent players now forced into retirement, surely the time is right for City to start – if they haven’t already done so – exploring a joint testimonial event at the Etihad.
Obviously, Merlin’s immediate focus will be a full recovery from his knee injury. It can often take between nine months to a year. It’s easy to see why a testimonial match might not have been appropriate – or even convenient – whilst David was still playing in La Liga and topflight European competition.
There’s a presumption that David and Sergio would welcome the idea – but why wouldn’t they? They’re both multi-millionaires so, in similar style to Vinny, the match proceeds could be donated to worthy causes.
Even now, there’s no to hurry. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly and at the right time.
With City’s £300m Etihad expansion plans having just been approved, what’s to say a joint testimonial can’t be the opening fixture in the summer of 2025, in front of 62,000 fans?
It wouldn’t lack for the ‘Wow’ factor and what a stunning way for City fans to finally get the chance to say ‘Muchos muchos gracias’ and a heartfelt ‘Adios’.
By David Walker
Twitter @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu