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Vincent Kompany testimonial draws legends to support homelessness charity

  • September 12, 2019
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Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs were among the Premier League All-Stars XI.

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“I don’t feel English but I definitely feel Manc,” Vincent Kompany said on launching his charity testimonial. At the Etihad it felt as if the whole of Manchester was returning the affection for a player whose determination to do right by his adopted city matches his fiercely competitive attitude in 11 years as a leader by example.

The special song supporters sing for Kompany is based on Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson, complete with second line: “City loves you more than you will know.” Not any longer, perhaps, and maybe not just City.

Most of the 51,602 present were of a City persuasion, though plenty on the pitch were recently retired Reds, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs among them. As Kompany said, if you are trying to tackle the problem of homelessness in a city you need everyone to be working together, and in donating the entire proceeds of his testimonial match to Manchester’s A Bed Every Night charity the new player-manager of Anderlecht stood up, as always, to be counted.

Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, for while Stephen Ireland, Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips could be found chugging around the greensward at slightly reduced pace, Kompany surprised precisely no one by crying off late with a hamstring injury.

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“It’s typical me,” he said, “but one of the things I now know about testimonials is that it makes life a lot easier if you go for people who have finished playing. Thankfully it’s a celebration game, I don’t actually need to be on the pitch. It’s for an unbelievable cause too, so I don’t think my missing out is the most important thing, and it’s how City fans know me anyway. I’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries and absences in my career, the irony of me missing my own testimonial won’t be lost on anyone.”

That brought a laugh as Kompany addressed his audience before kick-off, and the former captain was moved in return by a rousing rendition of Here’s To You, Vincent Kompany, before Martin Petrov opened the scoring in the second minute when David Silva found a surprising amount of space behind Gary Neville. The crowd possibly enjoyed that most of all, and gentle booing followed Neville round the pitch until the Sky Sports pundit also tweaked his hamstring, though Kompany had already anticipated that.






Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs were among the Premier League All-Stars XI. Photograph: Phil Oldham/BPI/Shutterstock

“I’m glad to have the United players here, we can’t do this properly without the red side being involved,” he said. “Even though I am presently playing in a different country Manchester will always be special for me. My missus is a Manc and so are my kids. We were looking for an opportunity to give something back when [Manchester Mayor] Andy Burnham came along. We are happy to help. As footballers we are just normal members of society, most of us come from nothing, but we are lucky to have a bigger platform to speak up.”

Burnham paid tribute to Kompany, revealing that he has already raised £300,000 for the homeless through their Tackle4MCR homeless charity. “I can’t praise Vincent enough, I’ve seen first-hand how committed he is,” Burnham said. “Just days after he scored that fantastic goal against Leicester he gave up his time to visit the charity in Ardwick. He may be from Brussels but Vincent is as Mancunian as they come and understands better than most that in 2019 no one should have to spend a night on the streets.”

Pep Guardiola, notionally managing the City Legends side, said: “When I came to the club everyone had already told me about Vincent but it was only through working with him that I began to realise the magnitude of his contribution. He was a leader in the dressing room and an inspiration on the field. For a decade he was the soul of the football club.”

Roberto Martínez, handling the Premier League All Stars for the night as they were denied victory late on by an equalising goal from the former City striker Benjani Mwaruwari, said Kompany was an old-fashioned team player who would never accept defeat. “He’s got the leadership and skill to do whatever it takes to achieve success,” Kompany’s national team manager with Belgium said. “I think his goal against Leicester last season proved that.”

Kompany’s own view on leadership is that it simply evolves from captaincy. “A good captain is someone who cares more about the team than himself and, if you can add in experience, that’s what makes a good leader too,” he suggested. According to Mark Hughes, the manager who signed Kompany for City, his leadership qualities were evident when he arrived as a 22 year old midfielder from Hamburg. And if you ask Kevin de Bruyne, he is not finished yet. “Vinny is a very smart and passionate man,” City’s Belgian midfielder said. “He’s got a lot more to do and to achieve in his career and I think he will be just as amazing at Anderlecht. I’ve told him to keep a place in his team for me in a year or seven, when I’m finished here.”

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