It is rare that a ground’s greatest player is responsible for its finest moment. Sergio Aguero bids farewell to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, having scored more goals than anyone else there; indeed, having scored more Premier League goals there than anyone else has at any one stadium.
But one, of course, guaranteed him immortality. A Premier League season concludes against Everton now with Aguero's fifth title already assured. His first, in 2012, came courtesy of his final-day, 94th minute goal against QPR. The architect of the most extraordinary drama in City's history feels it will always remain unique, and not just for him.
“It is the best memory that I will ever have in my head,” Aguero said. “I don’t think it will happen again in another country or in this one. It’s not something that can be repeated. It was the best moment of my life. I will always remember this goal like it was yesterday.”
The time remains stencilled into City memories: 93 minutes, 20 seconds. “It was just so crazy,” Aguero recalled. “So amazing. We won more titles after this one but the celebrations that year were different, very different. I remember that night we went with our families and everyone from the club to party. We were all still in shock.
“Then there was two days of crazy partying but with family, people from the club and with team-mates – every time we saw each other we would shout: ‘Champions, champions!’ We were just so happy. It was a unique moment, different to everything else.”
And yet Aguero’s legacy extends far beyond that. There will be a statue of him at the Etihad; defenders may wish a forward defined by quicksilver movement had been more statuesque in the past decade.
He has eluded them at will. Nine of his record 12 Premier League hat-tricks came at the Etihad; that his victims included Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham, plus Bayern Munich in the Champions League, illustrated that he could torment the best. There were seven Etihad goals against Liverpool, four against Manchester United.
“I don’t want them just to remember me for the goal I scored against QPR, but I want them to remember all my best moments in important games,” he added.
He had seven seasons of at least 23 goals, eight of 28 or more. Some 254 of his 258 goals came within his first nine years. “Now looking at the numbers it’s like ‘wow’,” Aguero reflected. “But at the beginning I didn’t think much about the numbers but now I feel so happy for what I have achieved at the club and the goals I have scored.”
He has surpassed his own expectations. “When I arrived here I didn’t expect things to go as well as they did because I was the back-up striker at Atletico Madrid,” he said. “When I started playing here I was very much a No. 9.”
He arrived at 23 and will depart at 33, joining a club with one trophy in 35 years and going as the most decorated player in City’s history. “I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved here,” he said.
Injuries make it less likely he will be called upon in the Champions League final. Hopefully, though, his last meaningful contribution at the Etihad was not the missed penalty against Chelsea. He could face Everton today, but the farewell will feel different. “Obviously it will be very strange,” he added.
But the boy from Buenos Aires will go as an adopted Mancunian. “Manchester will always be one of my homes,” he said. “I will definitely miss the rain.”