Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany wants to bring back some of the club’s old-guard for his testimonial to mark 10 years of service with the club.
Kompany joined the club from Hamburg as a 22-year old in August 2008 and made his debut in a 3-0 win over West Ham United mere days before the Sheikh Mansour regime got under way on Deadline Day.
The Belgian international has since gone on cement his place as a City legend by captaining the side, lifting three Premier League titles, three League Cups and one FA Cup in a glittering stint.
Kompany’s big day at the Etihad is still a fair few months away but he has already revealed a desire to bring back some big names for the game at the Etihad.
“I’d love to,” the 32-year old told SPORTbible when asked about the possibility of some of his old City teammates being involved.
“The whole generation of FA Cup and first league title will always remain special to myself and to the City fans – and I think everyone’s desperate to see those faces back at the Etihad.
“I want to show appreciation for the people that helped me personally in the club to get over the line the first time because I think without it, we wouldn’t have been on the same journey today.
“I’d love to see Nige De Jong back at the Etihad, I’d love to see Zaba [Pablo Zabaleta] back, I’d love to see [Mario] Balotelli back. That would be great. Preparing the invite list!”
A testimonial involving a City player has not occurred for a while and having seen City’s fortunes changed dramatically in his decade at the club, the whole achievement means a lot to the Blues skipper.
“City was an incredibly hard place to remain at for that period of time because the club was in transition and you had to improve, improve, improve every single year,” Kompany added.
“The club was ambitious but at the same time I’ve been able to feel at home and comfortable. I’ve grown with the club so to arrive at the end of a 10-year period – which is the date you need to achieve a testimonial – it has a special meaning to me.
“I’ve literally seen the club’s transition and it’s been such a special time with so many great memories.”
Kompany has two children to wife Carla Higgs, a City supporter from Irlam whom he married in 2011.
He has well and truly become an adopted Mancunian and says he “owes everything” to the city.
And so he has took it upon himself to give back. Kompany has set up the ‘Tackle4MCR’ fund alongside Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in a bid to end homelessness and has pledged to donate all the profits of his testimonial, minus running costs.
On whether he ever envisioned becoming so attached to Manchester, Kompany said: “I guess it was impossible to foresee that.
“The first years I was always just focused on making sure I was in the game because this place was moving fast and everyone had to catch on with the program.
“After that it just felt natural, it felt comfortable – it felt like this was a nice place for me to live in – I’ve loved living in Manchester as well.
“I never thought that I would have a career in which I could be so happy with how I developed as a player and how I live my life outside of football. I owe everything to this place.”
Kompany has two teams in the Belgian Homeless Cup as part of his support for the fight to prevent rough sleeping in his native country but says this campaign is much more “substantial”.
And the Anderlecht youth product is quick to point out how powerful the game of football can be – and how it is a way in which pressing social issues like this can be tackled.
He continued: “You look at the TV and you see the end product which is a number of top professional athletes playing against each other and that’s what we love; that’s the entertainment side.
“Football is much more than that. I’ve experienced football as a way to get out of my neighbourhood and meet people from a completely different background. It allowed me – as one of the few in my neighbourhood – to travel the world and see other countries and cultures.
“To me it’s been a part of social awareness. I see football as a way to cross bridges between people and to rally around a similar passion.
“The beauty sometimes with football is we do so much about how people defend their colours – whether you’re red or you’re blue – but in reality the beautiful thing is that when you decide to be a red, that involves everyone from every background, from every colour of skin.
“You’re a red, you’re in the same team – more than the guy who is from a similar culture as you but ended up supporting the blue. I look at football as much more powerful than just what you see on TV.”
Kompany has not decided on an opponent just yet, though Hamburg and Anderlecht, Belgium’s biggest club and with whom he has a 14-year link with, are both options.
“We’ll see; everything’s open,” Kompany quipped when asked if he has a preferred opposition in mind.
And although Kompany is more than worthy of the ‘Mr Manchester City’ tag, he wants this to be about the city of Manchester instead and hopes all local based teams, including neighbours Manchester United, can be involved in some way.
“It’s a geographical issue for us so there isn’t just a blue side to it, there’s a red side to it as well,” the eloquent defender added.
“I do preach for complete unity on this aspect so it shouldn’t be a ‘City event’ or a ‘City day’ – it should be a Manchester day.
“Hopefully all the teams in Greater Manchester will be supportive.”