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'I had nightmares about Aguero's title-winner not going in' - Man City legend Kompany opens up on '93:20'

11:30 GMT+3 27/08/2021
Vincent Kompany
A decade since the Argentine scored the most iconic goal in Premier League history, the Belgian legend will be honoured by the club he served so well

There is something particularly fitting about Manchester City unveiling a statue to club legend Vincent Kompany ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

The end of this season's campaign will mark 10 years since he won his first title with the club, with Puma launching a special home shirt to celebrate the most iconic moment in Premier League history: Sergio Aguero’s unforgettable strike to snatch the title from Manchester United in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.

While the last day comeback was improbable, it had looked almost impossible just a few weeks earlier after a catastrophic defeat to the Gunner left City eight points behind United with just six games remaining.

Many of City's players looked utterly beaten after a 1-0 defeat in which Mario Balotelli had been sent off. In the depths of the Emirates Stadium, even Kompany, a natural leader that never stops believing in the most unlikely of circumstances, feared their title challenge had slipped away.

However, his never-say-die spirit helped drag City out of their slumber and into a reinvigorating run of form. By the time the defender scored the only goal in an electric Manchester derby in the penultimate home game of the season, the title race was back in City's hands.

"I knew we could go on a run because we had a good team for that," he tells Goal. "But United giving it up like that... You don't see a Fergie team or a team with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, all these big names, solid names Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs... you don't see them giving it away like this.

"For that reason, I was kind of thinking 'We'll get it next year.' For me, it was just a continuous journey, you build your next season by winning everything through to the end of that season.

"But there was a feeling of anger at ourselves for not actually turning up when we needed to, and underachieving at that moment, because we were better than what we'd shown in that period of time where we nearly gave it away.

"That anger got us back into a position where we had a chance. And when United came to the Etihad, there was just too much at stake for us. I don't think we allowed them a shot on goal that game. It was everything after that which was difficult."

That City dressing room was no place for shrinking violets. Whether it was Carlos Tevez disappearing back to Argentina for three months or training=ground bust-ups between Roberto Mancini and Balotelli, passion underpinned that successful campaign.

While Kompany would go on to lift three more Premier League trophies in sides brimming with style and swagger, first under Manuel Pellegrini and then the dominant Pep Guardiola, there was something unique about that 2012 success.

"There's one thing I can say about that team – the teams after that have won the title were nice guys and nice people, good footballers that communicate and coordinate well with each other," the 35-year-old says.

"The team we had when we won the first league was a team of characters; people who would leave a foot in a challenge and people who had a few bruises and scars.

"That was what got us through that first year: big characters with big personalities. We just didn't accept the situation and that anger brought up some of our best football when it was getting difficult.

"It was a team where we had great relationships in the group. We could go out with that team more often than we did with the previous teams. It was a team that could bond in and outside of the pitch quite a lot.

"But it was also a team where it was normal to argue, and it was normal to have heated discussions and heated moments in training, and that was our strength.

"You needed to stand your ground and to be able to stand up for yourself when you came into that dressing room."

Mancini was among those to be involved in those tussles and he wasn't afraid to publicly criticise his players when things weren't going the right way.

They certainly weren't on the final day of the season.

Needing to beat Queens Park Rangers to secure the title, the Etihad Stadium was in shock when James Mackie put the visitors 2-1 ahead.

The Italian's reaction was to march out of his technical area and memorably remonstrate his players, something that Kompany, now a coach with Belgian side Anderlecht, is unlikely to replicate.

"It's each to their own," he laughs, recalling the incident. "I'm the guy who believes when nobody believes, so I could have the hardest moment against me and it takes me very little time to reset."

What happened next has gone down in history, both for the club and in the Premier League. First, Edin Dzeko equalised in the 90th minute before Aguero's incredible winner.

The time of the goal – 93 minutes and 20 seconds – is etched in the memory of every City fan and stitched into this season's home shirt 10 years on.

Those that were there will never forget a moment of the highest emotion as time stood still when Aguero gathered himself to score the most important goal in the club's history.

"I have to say for about a month after that game I think I woke up, having nightmares about what if that ball didn't go in," Kompany recalls.

"You talk about rollercoasters of emotions and scenarios. It's like you get taken to the deepest depths of your feelings and crush everything.

"And then you get pulled back up to the highest moments of ecstasy or happiness. So, it was intense, as intense a moment as you can imagine."

Aguero will also have a statue added outside the stadium at a later date, while a sculpture of David Silva will also be unveiled on Saturday.

All three would go on to have great success with Kompany becoming the most decorated captain in the club's history but there will always be something special about that 93:20 moment.

"You share a moment like this together and you can always look each other up and have a moment where you can sit together for the rest of your life," he adds. "And the fans that were in the stadium that day.

"Some of them were already on the bus, other ones were about to leave, some of them were arguing with their parents or friends... It's madness. It creates a bond between all of us who shared that experience."