The midfielder was part of the title celebrations at the Etihad when Sergio Aguero scored against QPR in 2012 – now he’s part of the first-team squad
May 13th, 2012 has been a date that no Manchester City fan will ever forget.
Sergio Aguero’s 94th-minute winner against QPR snatched the title away from city rivals Manchester United in arguably the most dramatic moment in Premier League history.
Everyone inside the Etihad Stadium that day will remember that snapshot for the rest of their lives.
That includes Phil Foden, who was just 11 at the time.
“I was right behind the goal and saw it go in the net – I’ll never forget it,” the City midfielder and life-long fan told Goal.
“I remember the whistle went and everyone legged it on to the pitch! Me and my mum decided to go on as well.
“I remember seeing Aguero getting swarmed and security guards around him trying to get him to the tunnel. It was just full of people; you couldn’t move.
“It was massive. I knew how big it was. I could tell by the reaction around me how big it was.
“I don’t think it will ever be done like that again; it was a special memory.”
Foden was already with the City academy by then and his progression through every age group right up until the first team gives him a special bond with the club and the fans.
It’s why the City faithful gave his name one of the loudest cheers when he was announced in the starting line-up before Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Atalanta.
And it’s why manager Pep Guardiola says he has been the one soccer professional in the first-team squad that must never be sold.
Indeed, Foden’s connection with the club already stretches back more than a decade.
“The first game I remember going to was one Bonfire night (November 5, 2007), when they said I could walk out with a soccer professional.
“I think Stephen Ireland scored on the night [against Sunderland], so that’s my first memory. I would have been about six.”
Ten years later, he was training with the senior squad.
“It was crazy,” he admits. “Obviously, I was very nervous. I’d been going to games and watching these players and now I was training with them.
“It was an unbelievable experience the first time I went up. It didn’t take me too long to settle in because the lads made it comfortable for me.
“After my first game at the Etihad, I just felt more comfortable. You have all the nerves building up to it but then, you just play and do what you’ve always done.”
Like many members of this new, exciting generation of young English footballers, there has been a buzz about Foden and the fearless way he plays football.
Playing on the streets of Stockport helped to develop his touch, flair and a passion for the game.
The teenager was still playing bare-chested with his mates in the road near his house only last year but says he’s had to curb his desire to have a kick-about so as to avoid picking up an injury.
“I just love my street football; that’s what made me who I am,” he said.
“I think I have to stop a little because it’s an injury-risk. I don’t think City would be too happy if I got injured playing street football, so I don’t do it anymore. I train more than enough so I don’t need to be doing stuff like that.
“I used to love it as a kid, though. I think in pre-season I do it a bit to keep my fitness up because I really enjoy it.”
He also enjoys representing his country.
It has already been two years since Foden won the Under-17 World Cup as part of an England squad that also included Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi and Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster.
“Honestly, they were unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t think there was a better age group than ours.
“You can tell by how many have gone onto the first team; most of that team. It just shows how special that group was.
“We all keep in touch, we’re all good friends and we all try to help each other out.
“When you see someone make their debut, you’re going to message them.
“We’re all still so young, so it’s hard to say for now [what we could achieve]. But I’d like to think that in the future, something great could happen.”
For now, though, his focus has been on working hard in training and trying to impress Guardiola.
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However, there will be young City fans already in the club’s Academy inspired by what Foden has already achieved – going from celebrating Aguero’s title-decider to playing alongside the Argentine.
“Sometimes I pop back over to the Academy and watch a bit of training and see how it’s going,” he reveals.
“There’s a lot of special talents over there. Hopefully, they can progress to the first team just like I did. Why not?”