Phil Foden has revealed that his current manager at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola, has been shaping him as a player ever since he was a child in primary school.
But, to say it’s been a dream come true for Foden to grow, debut and now star under Guardiola’s tutelage wouldn’t quite ring true for Foden, because as he tells it, “I never would have thought that he would be my coach some day.”
What’s the next step above “dream come true?” Whatever it is, that’s the life Foden is living these days as he prepares to turn 21 years old on Friday, five days after lifting the Premier League trophy and a day before Manchester City face Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final — quotes from our partners our Sky Sports:
“Everyone knows he’s one of the best coaches to ever be out there. So, just to play under him is very special. He just loves playing out from the back and playing beautiful football. It suits my style a lot and I’m just happy to keep working with him and keep improving.
“When I used to watch Barcelona as a kid, it was unbelievable — the way he set them up and how they played one-touch and two-touch football was unbelievable. I never would have thought that he would be my coach some day. I feel very lucky.
“I just remember growing up and they dominated football for years, winning everything. I just remember always watching it with my dad and thinking: ‘Wow! What a team this is and what a coach they have!’
“He has tried to bring that kind of football here and it seems to be working. They played a big part in my career, watching them when I was younger, and it helps as well now that the manager’s here. I understand how he plays and how he wants to play. It helps a lot.”
What does the future hold for Phil Foden?
Barely two full seasons into his first-team career, Foden has the look of a generational talent, and there’s little doubt that he’ll reach the top of world football with Guardiola backing him every step of the way.
Guardiola must have known from day one that Foden would be the gem of the Manchester City academy, but the Catalan mastermind rigidly stuck to his trusted approach of bringing the youngster along slowly, but also never letting him out of his sight. While many clubs and managers would have sent Foden out on loan as a 17- or 18-year-old to gain first-team experience elsewhere, Guardiola saw the value of working directly with the supremely talented son of Greater Manchester.
Foden is an incredibly well-rounded footballer — not even for his age, but for any professional anywhere in the world — who is perfectly suited to Guardiola’s system, which demands elite-level awareness of space and movement, and the technical and passing ability to connect with the other 10 players on the field. Foden ticks all of the above boxes with a flair and confidence comparable to few players in the world, and rather than try to “coach it out of him,” as some might be tempted to do, Guardiola has quite clearly encouraged Foden to embrace that side of himself and let it shine through for the world to see and marvel at one of the game’s future greats.