Phil Foden has revealed how Pep Guardiola has been influencing his game since he was at primary school.
The midfielder, one of the stars of City’s run to the Champions League final, was a day short of his ninth birthday when Guardiola guided Barcelona to the first of two victories in the competition in 2009.
Foden was captivated by Guardiola’s side and the admiration has continued since with the youngster going on to play under him and become a key part of the Catalan’s team at City.
“Everyone knows he’s one of the best coaches to ever be out there,” said Foden, who turns 21 the day before City face Chelsea in Saturday’s final in Porto.
“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.”
Academy product Foden has been carefully managed by City and Guardiola over the past four seasons.
He was eased gradually into the first-team picture and it is only during the past two years that he has begun to command a place with regularity.
There were times during his development when it was suggested in some quarters he should seek a loan move to gain experience, but he opted to be patient, train under Guardiola and await his chance.
“There weren’t many young kids at my age playing in a team like this,” said Foden, who scored winning goals in both legs of the quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund and has bagged 16 in all competitions this season.
“A lot of people were complaining about the minutes and things but, with the team that we have here and how many quality players we had at the time, it was very difficult to get in.
“I just kept believing in myself and trusting the manager. This year has been really good for me, playing more minutes. I would definitely say it has paid off.”