Manchester: Phil Foden had a front-row seat when the balance of power shifted in Manchester. He was crouched on a stool as Vincent Kompany rose to head past David de Gea before going off on that now legendary celebration packed with frenzied emotion.
It was a Monday night in April six years ago and Manchester City’s derby victory over United helped seal a first league title since 1968. Foden, a ball boy that season, jumped up in delirium.
“I remember I was sitting at the opposite end to where Vinny (Kompany) scored — behind the other goal,” Foden said in his first newspaper interview. “It was such an important game and Vinny got the header.
“It was just such a mad atmosphere. I’ve had a few instances like that, where I’ve fallen over the hoardings when I’ve tried to jump over them!”
Foden, only just 18, is shy. He is deliberate in what he says and wants to make the right impression. Born in Stockport, there is an authenticity to his character and he still plays football in the street with mates. “Any free time I get, I go and play with people in my old area,” he said.
His attitude around the City Football Academy is described as exemplary and Pep Guardiola has made sure he has stayed with the first team for more than 12 months now.
Talks over a new contract are yet to start but should be a formality because Foden has made it known he cannot see himself playing anywhere else. Some key figures are helping to shape his career. David Silva is proving to be a mentor. Guardiola’s assistant, Mikel Arteta, is putting in the extra work with Foden after training.
Pep wanted to keep me here and I wanted to stay here as well. I feel I will develop more playing against older people and better players
“I want to try to follow the senior players, learn off them and get as many minutes as I can,” Foden says. “It’s about learning at the moment because I’m so young. David (Silva) is my idol. It’s great to have players like him giving you advice.”
Word quickly got around about Foden at the academy. Parents would flock to his team’s pitch to catch a glimpse of him. A wider range of fans became aware of him when he was voted player of the tournament as England U-17 won the World Cup last year.
An invitation to link up with Paul Simpson’s England U-19 was turned down this summer and Foden went instead on City’s tour of America.