Kompany misses testimonial but gets statute as consolation
• Picks Van Dijk as best defender in English Premier League history
Former Manchester City skipper, Vincent Kompany was ruled out of his own testimonial with a hamstring injury yesterday, but he received some consolation after the club said it would commission a statue in his honour, reports Reuters.
The match held at City’s Etihad Stadium later yesterday and the irony of being unable to play was not lost on the 33-year-old Belgium international, who spent a large chunk of his time in England in the treatment room.
Kompany, who was at City for 11 years, left before the start of the current season to join Anderlecht as player-coach.
“Unfortunately I won’t be starting tonight or playing. It’s typical of me, right?” he told reporters before the game. “I’m usually just there for the end of the season. I’ve got a slight hamstring injury. I couldn’t risk it tonight.
“There are still plenty of awesome players to be watching and it’s about the celebration and to say goodbye – I don’t need to be on the pitch as such.”
Kompany was set to play for a City legends team against a team of Premier League legends, with proceeds from the match going towards a charity he set up to help combat homelessness in Manchester.
There was some consolation, however, with City announcing they would name a road at their academy after Kompany and unveil a statue at The Etihad of their most successful captain.
Kompany made 360 appearances for City, helping the club emerge as one of the dominant forces in English football and genuine title rivals to neighbours Manchester United.
He was part of the team that won the FA Cup in 2011, ending the club’s 35-year trophy drought, and led City to four Premier League titles, four League Cups and two Community Shields.
“It is an incredible honour to be recognised by this special club in this way,” Kompany said.
“The journey that we went on together throughout my 11 years in Manchester changed my life and I am delighted to have played my small part in altering the course of this club’s history during that time.”
Kompany is a defender’s defender. The former Manchester City captain was a veteran of the Premier League by the end of his days at the Etihad, having skippered his side to four Premier League titles during his 265-game career in English football’s top flight.
A warrior to the core, the classy Kompany was a pivotal figure for City throughout his 11-year stay at the Etihad, a constant pillar at the back as everything in front of him was seemingly changed and tweaked with big-money sprees every summer.
Despite a string of injury problems across his time in Manchester, when it was time to stand up and be counted, Kompany was never found wanting.
To put it simply, Kompany’s knows his defensive onions. Which is why it must have been so jarring for Liverpool’s rivals when he was asked about his thoughts on the best centre-back in Premier League history yesterday.
Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic? Both have legitimate shouts. John Terry too, given his outstanding service across a glittering career for Chelsea.
Kompany himself has a credible claim, but the Belgian was never going to pick his own name out the hat.
Instead, the current Anderlecht player-manager plumped for a man who stands as favourite for the Ballon d’Or above even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, reports Liverpool Echo.
“I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk,” Kompany said.
Kompany cared little for how the soundbite might be received in the bowels of Manchester – a stronghold of Liverpool dislike, whoever you follow in the city.
Instead, the long-serving centre-half talked up the talents of a man who is out to usurp his former club in the Premier League race this season.
“He’s not been on the scene as long as Terry, Ferdinand who have been around for a long time but the signs he’s shown in the last few years show if he had been around longer he’d have been at the top for a long time.
“The Liverpool before Van Dijk and after are a completely different set-up so, I’ll give him that one.”
Kompany is right.
Van Dijk’s £75 million signature in January 2018 was the catalyst that strengthened Liverpool’s Achilles’ heel almost overnight. Within months of his arrival, the Reds had gone from a leaky backline where chaos reigned to Champions League finalists.
A year later, the former Southampton star would go on to lift the biggest prize in club football into the Madrid sky as Jurgen Klopp marked his first trophy at Anfield in style.
The Holland captain was the bedrock behind the best defensive record in the top flight last term as the Reds picked up 97 points by keeping 21 clean sheets and conceding just 22 times.
His form was so imperious, so consistent, that he was rewarded with the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in April.
Becoming the first defender to win the trophy since Terry in 2005, Van Dijk was recognised for his superlative form domestically before scooping the European equivalent last month.
His name on the shortlist of the FIFA’s ‘The Best’ was also confirmed last week as Van Dijk closes in on yet another individual reward for his defensive excellence.
In an era of football that saw Ronaldo and Messi share 10 Ballon d’Ors between 2008 and 2017, Van Dijk has almost single-handedly made defending fashionable once more.