Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has announced he is leaving the club after 11 years to re-join his first ever club Anderlecht as a player-manager. The Belgian defender joined City in 2008 and won four Premier League titles, two FA-Cups and four League Cups during his spell at the club.
In his last season the club made history by becoming the first English side to win a domestic treble. Kompany’s final game was the emphatic 6-0 FA-Cup final win against Watford on Saturday, May 18th. AFP reported the 33-year-old said in a statement, "As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go. And what a season to bow out." Kompany added, "I feel nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club."
Announcing he will be re-joining his boyhood club Anderlecht as a player-manager he said, "I choose to be grateful for the past but remain ambitious and driven for the future. For the next three years, I will take up the role of player-manager of Anderlecht. Belgium's finest," he wrote on Facebook. "This may come as a surprise to you. It's the most passionate yet rational decision I've ever made."
Kompany developed into one of the best centre-backs in the world after being signed by former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes from Hamburg in 2008. He made 360 appearances for the club and had many memorable moments including the unforgettable winning goal against Manchester United in 2012. And the stunning long-range winner against Leicester in the final home game of the season which helped the club towards the title.
His final years at the club were marred by many injury problems, but he showed gratitude to the City fans for standing by him and thanked club owner Sheikh Mansour. "I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up," Kompany said. "Sheikh 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."
The Belgian international is a symbol of the club’s success over the past decade. His departure now means that David Silva and Sergio Aguero are the only two players in the squad that were part of City’s title winning season in 2012. According to AFP, Kompany also praised his past and present teammates as well as his manager Pep Guardiola. "It's a cliché to say it but it's also so true: without my team-mates, I would have never been here today," he said. "We fought many battles together. Side by side. In good times and in bad.
“So, to all of you, from the 2008-2009 squad to today's domestic treble winners: I owe you guys! A special word also to Pep and the backroom staff: you've been superb. You've followed me through so much hardship. You made me come back stronger every time. Thank you so much."
AFP also reported City’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, praising the departing defender when speaking on the club’s official website. "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."