Guardiola: I’ve known Phil Foden was special since day one

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Pep Guardiola recognised Phil Foden was destined for stardom the day he arrived at Manchester City.

The highly-rated 18-year-old academy graduate further underlined his huge potential with the winning goal in title-chasing City’s tense but crucial 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Saturday.

Phil Foden was City's match-winner on Saturday
Phil Foden was City’s match-winner on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)

“This guy is special,” said City manager Guardiola, who took over three years ago this summer.

“From the first time I saw him, when I just landed here, (director of football) Txiki (Begiristain) told me, ‘You have to meet one player, 15 or 16 years old’.

“In the first season he came to training sessions one day, two days and I said, ‘Wow, you are right Txiki, this player is good’.

Guardiola took over at City in the summer of 2016
Guardiola took over at City in the summer of 2016 (Barrington Coombs/PA)

“Sometimes you have to handle those situations but we don’t have any doubts. Every time he played he was a stunner, he was top. He has the level to be a Manchester City player and it is not easy to play in those teams, the big teams.

“I see him every day in training sessions. He has something special. I have seen many players as a player and as a manager and this guy has something difficult to find.”

Playing Foden proved to be an inspired decision by Guardiola in a crucial fixture.

City were anxious to win to avoid ceding the initiative to Liverpool in the title race but, knocked out of the Champions League by Spurs just three days earlier, they needed a lift.

Foden provided that with an energetic and creative performance.

“(It was) my inspiration,” said Guardiola when asked why he chose Foden for the fixture. “I was in an office, I said I want to give him (a go), that’s all.

“Managing is not a book like you follow the rules. Sometimes it is something I feel – this guy has to play today, do it. (It seems) it’s a good decision because we won.”

Foden was given a starting spot against Cardiff earlier this month but this latest chance took him by surprise on the morning of the game. He will now wait to see if he retains his spot for Wednesday’s derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Foden said: “It was a bit of a surprise but I was always ready to take the opportunity. Obviously any game I play I am going to be excited.

“I am just waiting for the opportunities.”

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