“Your kids will be able to go to a place where they can remember you. Your grandkids will be able to go to a place where they can remember you,” said Vincent Kompany.
His statue at the Etihad Stadium will be unveiled before Saturday’s game against Arsenal, celebrating the achievements of Manchester City’s greatest captain.
That he will be immortalised for eternity is, Kompany says, “still difficult to grasp; it doesn’t feel real until it’s there.”
“You don't wake up one day and think my dream is to have a statue of myself somewhere,” he explained. The past, Kompany says, can be his blind spot. His family preserve more parts of it than him. “I’m so driven that I don’t do well with looking back,” he said. “I’m more laid-back but for my family it means something. That gives it so much more value. My dad would take care of all the trophies and the memorabilia. At home, my wife Carla will never let anything slip.”
Pierre Kompany’s journey from Congo to Belgium means he cherishes his son’s feats all the more. Now manager of Anderlecht, the younger Kompany added: “I have to go back to Manchester for so many reasons. One is to visit the statue but the second is that it is still my second home.”
Married to a City fan, Kompany joked that 11 years in Manchester brought him: “The accent! A wife and kids too, which is not unimportant.”
A permanent place in English football’s landscape shows his footballing significance. “You remember when we pass statues at other grounds, whether West Bromwich or Sunderland or Arsenal.
"You always have that curiosity about what the person meant to the club, what was his journey and his story for him to deserve to be honoured in such a way. We are part of a club that pays attention to this. The link between the City before the takeover and the City of today has always been at the forefront of everything. It's never been hidden, it's been something that we're proud about.”
Kompany likes the fact that the late Colin Bell – “good old Colin” – has a stand named after him at the Etihad Stadium. Now recognition is going to a younger generation.
Kompany is sharing the honour with men who accomplished so much together. David Silva’s statue will also be revealed on Saturday. In due course, Sergio Aguero is set to join them, three of City’s greatest team united again. Kompany feels it is fitting.
“It was a special journey and we went through it together,” he said. “Nothing would have happened without Kun’s goals and David’s wizardry in midfield and our fate was linked to each other. If you replace David with somebody else and you replace Kun with somebody else, I am sure that a lot of this success would not have been possible.”
For Kompany, that success involved four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups, all bar one as captain. He bowed out with the 2019 treble. His last game was the biggest FA Cup final win since 1902.
“The final goodbye was the perfect setting,” he said. “I absolutely love that trophy. It was 6-0 against Watford. I just had 45 minutes of taking everything in without any stress, which is a complete luxury in a final.
“I felt that I could never leave in a better way than that season. I’d swum the channel too many times. I’d got away with injury after injury, the miraculous comebacks, and eventually my luck was going to run out. I just thought stop with winning five trophies in two years. I’m not a gambling man. That was enough for me.”