‘Superstar’ Foden formed by love of football and fishing

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Phil Foden.

London, Wednesday

Phil Foden already has eight major trophies to his name before his 21st birthday on Friday.

The following day he may have the perfect present in Manchester City’s first Champions League crown.

Born and raised in Stockport, just six miles (10 kilometres) from the club’s Etihad Stadium, Foden is the homegrown hero among a star-studded international squad bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi owners.

The club that he first started training with as a six-year-old was very different. City had only recently returned to the Premier League after at one stage slipping down to English football’s third tier.

“We had limited money, limited resources and we invested in people,” City’s former academy manager Jim Cassell told AFP ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

Manchester United were used to having their pick of local talent, while City also had to fend off interest from Liverpool and Everton for a precocious talent nicknamed the “Stockport Iniesta” for his similarity to the wiry but silky former Barcelona and Spain midfielder, Andres Iniesta.

“Philip just looked different, he looked special,” Cassell continued. 

“He always had magnificent agility and balance. That’s what made him special he used to manipulate the ball without touching it because of the way his body was.”

The earliest City could officially register Foden was at under-nine level, but he continued to play for his local team, Reddish Vulcans, to foster his competitive spirit.

“We had a very challenging culture,” Cassell said. “I’ve heard people say ‘let them play, don’t look at results’, but when do you turn on the tap to be a winner? 

“I don’t go along with this ‘don’t worry about results’. We’re in an elite programme. Elite is about being the best, it’s about challenging yourself to be the best.”         -AFP

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