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Man City ace Phil Foden reveals the ‘stupid’ reason he missed the ‘biggest game of his life’

Phil Foden has explained how he copes with the pressures playing for Manchester City and England brings.

It would be an understatement to say that life is going pretty well for Phil Foden right now.

Last month – after a meteoric five-year rise that saw him collect four Premier League winner’s medals – the Manchester City attacker penned a three-year contract extension with the club he has supported all his life.

 

With a World Cup with England to look forward to and many years of club and international success ahead of him, it would be easy for Foden to get carried away and lose sight of why he plays the game. There seems little chance of that, though.

In an exclusive interview with Esquire UK for their winter 2022 issue – on sale from 10th November – Foden spoke about the importance of young players staying focused despite the distractions that stardom inevitably brings.

“There’s so much going on out there for a young footballer like myself. The hardest thing is being in bed early and ready to train the next day when there’s all these distractions around. I think that’s where the dedication comes in,” Foden said.

“Once I step on the pitch, everything else just goes away. Whatever is going on in my life, it disappears. I think some players struggle with [all the distractions], but not me. I just love football. Nothing can ever get in the way. When I wake up, I can’t wait to get to training. I don’t think that’ll ever change.

“When you’re getting paid so much and you’ve got everything you want, sometimes it’s hard to feel the same hunger. That’s what I feel, looking from the outside at certain players.”

Foden admitted that outside pressure does sometimes get to him, but that he has never lost sight of the reasons he wanted to become a professional footballer.

“Obviously, growing up you do see people around you earning lots of money from playing football. I definitely felt the pressure of that. I wanted to be able to look after my family. But my job was just to keep focused on the game. My aim was to just enjoy myself. To play with a smile on my face.”

Pressure is something he and his England teammates are going to have to manage during the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Gareth Southgate’s side have endured a difficult year since losing the European Championship final to Italy in 2021. They’ll be keen to put those struggles behind them and prove they are one of the best sides in the world, but Foden will take in extra motivation.

The City attacker suffered a foot injury just before the final 16 months ago, denying him the chance to play in a major international final at Wembley.

“[I was] just walking in from training and someone’s passed me a ball and I’ve decided to do a stupid touch and gone over on my foot. I felt a crack in the top of my foot and I couldn’t walk. I knew straight away. The full world was watching, talking about the final, and here’s me got injured just before probably the biggest game of my life.”

With a nation’s expectations weighing down on him as well as his personal demons, Foden is under a lot of pressure. By the sounds of it, he can handle it.

STERLING DESERVES A GOOD RECEPTION – GUARDIOLA

Pep Guardiola says he hopes Raheem Sterling gets a big reception on his first return to the Etihad Stadium since leaving City.

 

The England winger is expected to be part of the Chelsea squad for our Carabao Cup third round clash on Wednesday night (kick-off 20:00 UK).

Sterling joined City from Liverpool a season before Guardiola arrived, and was a big part of our recent success, collecting four Premier League winners’ medals, four League Cups and an FA Cup.

He left in the summer along with a number of important members of the squad, including Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko and Zack Steffen, on loan at Middlesbrough, and the boss says he wants the best for his former players.

“My gratitude to all of them, these guys especially, is immense,” the boss said.

“What they have done for this Club, it’s just ‘hats off’. Thank you so much and I wish him all the best and hopefully he’s happy there.”

Asked whether Sterling would get a warm welcome back from the City fans, Guardiola added that he deserves to.

“I definitely hope so,” he said. “I always like the clubs when they welcome the guys who have been here many years and have been a key figure and had an important role in our team in all these years.

“Maybe you forget what happened in the last month, that is not the reality of what happened over a period of six, seven years when he was here.

“He deserves it of course and he’s more than welcome [back].

“When the game starts, we want to beat them, but of course he has to get a good reception. Everyone in England appreciates that.”

Sterling established himself as one of our greatest modern-day players during his seven years at the Club, making 339 appearances and scoring 131 goals.

Only Sergio Aguero has scored more than his 91 Premier League goals whilst he is 11th on the list of City’s record goal-scorers.

He is also our second-highest scorer of all-time in European football, with 24 Champions League goals second (again) to Aguero’s 43.

Sterling was in the City side that lost 1-0 in the 2021 Champions League final when we lost to Chelsea.

“We worked for six years every day together, working and playing a lot, a lot of games,” Guardiola added.

“Maybe the most important game we played is the final of the Champions League and he was there. If he is happy we are happy.”

Source: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk; www.mancity.com

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