EXCLUSIVE: Phil Foden on training, role models and his love for football | OneFootball

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OneFootball·9 November 2022

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Foden on training, role models and his love for football

Article image:EXCLUSIVE: Phil Foden on training, role models and his love for football

It feels like Phil Foden has been around forever.

He’s still only 22 yet he’s already racked up 188 first-team appearances for Manchester City and is the proud owner of four Premier League winners’ medals, four EFL Cups and the FA Cup.

That’s not to mention his 18 senior England caps, and later this month he is expected to play a big role when the Three Lions mount their assault on the World Cup in Qatar.

The boyhood City fan recently signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2027 and in the five years since he made his senior debut at left-wing-back in a Champions League clash with Feyenoord, Foden has become a key player at the Etihad Stadium and the apple of Pep Guardiola’s eye.

But despite starring alongside Jadon Sancho and Brahim Díaz in City’s academy, Foden admits he found the initial jump to the first-team as daunting as you would imagine.

“It was a big moment making the step up to the first-team,” he explains in an exclusive interview with STATSports and OneFootball.

“I remember the first week training with them and especially the first day I was thinking ‘This level is unbelievable!’.

“As time went on I got used to the rhythm of moving the ball quickly but at first I was thinking ‘Wow these players are unbelievable and it’s going to take a lot to break through into the team’.

“I just kept my confidence and kept improving my game and eventually I got up to speed.”

Foden has often been referred to as the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ but he says he actually modelled his game on David Silva as a youth, and it was another City legend who acted as a role model to him in those early training sessions with the first-team.

“Vincent Kompany, how he trained would be how he played,” he says.

“He’d give everything in training and get his rewards in the games, so I looked at him, how he led the group and how he was as a captain, and tried to learn things from him.”

Foden has gone from strength to strength since making his big breakthrough, and his goal tally for City currently stands at 52 – three of which came in a Manchester derby victory over fierce rivals Manchester United in October 2022.

But while his dreams are coming true on the pitch, the former ballboy hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and a famous viral video a couple of years ago showing him kicking a ball around on the streets of his hometown demonstrated that football is far more than just a job to Foden.

“It’s so important to love the game and want to play every day, to want to improve, and that’s the way I was,” he says.

“Now I see players in the academy and I can give them some hope that they too can make it to the first team.”

Foden belongs to a generation of young players who have come through at the zenith of football’s relationship with data science, and he believes technology such as GPS tracking is crucial when it comes to gaining an edge on your opponents.

“It’s so important now to have the energy to play a full 90 minutes and the quicker you learn to use your energy wisely is going to help you in the future,” he says.

“There’s a lot of things and nowadays every little bit of detail helps your game. I would definitely suggest getting a sprint coach or even looking at things online that you can do in the gym like A skips, B skips, things that are simple and can improve your speed and the way you move.

“You definitely have to look at that side of the game as well because as you see now, everyone is athletic in the Premier League and it’s just the way forward.

“The centre-backs and full-backs now are just unbelievably quick. Every year everyone’s getting more athletic, faster and harder to get past. It’s crazy.”

You can bet there are plenty of defenders who wouldn’t relish the prospect of playing against Foden, and the most frightening thing is that this young man with the world at his ridiculously quick feet still has plenty of room for improvement.