Vincent Kompany hailed a perfect evening despite being forced to miss his own testimonial through injury.
A crowd of 51,602 turned up at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to say farewell to the former Manchester City captain, who left the Premier League champions at the end of last season.
They were denied the chance of seeing the inspirational defender in action for one last time due to yet another injury, however – a frustration the man himself knows only too well.
The 33-year-old won 10 major honours in 11 years at the club but he was dogged by muscular problems throughout the second half of his City career.
“It’s typical me,” he said of the hamstring injury before the game, but that did not stop him enjoying the friendly between a City side featuring a host of star names from throughout his career and a Premier League All Stars XI.
“I’m the proudest man in the world,” said the Belgian, who also gave game time to his brother Francois and a number of players from Anderlecht, where he is now player-manager.
“It’s been a special day. It’s been a perfect evening even though I didn’t play. I couldn’t have wished for more.”
The priority for Kompany was raising funds for his homelessness charity Tackle4MCR, which aims to eradicate rough sleeping in Manchester. It is an issue that has been close to his heart throughout his stay in the city he now considers home.
“The key thing is to raise as much funding as we can and use it to help the people who are helping those living on the streets,” he said.
The game itself finished 2-2 with City scoring in the first and last minutes through Martin Petrov and Benjani Mwaruwari.
The Premier League side struck through Robbie Keane and Robin Van Persie, one of a number of former Manchester United players to feature. Others included Gary Neville – who left the field injured – Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.
Kompany said: “We are specifically dealing with homelessness in Greater Manchester. You can’t have a successful project without Manchester United involved. We have our differences – that is clear – but if we can get together for these sort of events the city is stronger.”
City’s tributes to their former captain included the naming of a road at their training complex ‘Kompany Crescent’ and the unveiling of a mosaic of him in action. It was also announced a sculpture was being commissioned.
Kompany began the day by holding a press conference to preview the match. Naturally, his thoughts on the City team he has left behind were sought.
Kompany’s departure left City with one fewer specialist central defender, and a lack of cover could be exposed in the coming months with Aymeric Laporte out injured. Kompany, however, is confident Pep Guardiola’s side will cope.
He said: “By losing Laporte you lose a big player. You need big players in the bigger games but the key strength of this Manchester City team is relying more on the system than the individuals.
“I don’t see City weakening. Pep is way to aware of this danger to let it happen.”
He also revealed that he believes Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk is the best defender to have played in the Premier League
Kompany said: “I go back to players that really impressed me when I played against them. I would bring it back to Virgil Van Dijk.
“From what I have seen on having an impact on a team – and being a defender is never about yourself, it’s how you make your team more solid – Liverpool before Van Dijk and after him, it is a completely different set-up.”
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