‘I’d laugh about it with my mates’

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May 25, 2021
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    'Most of the time it does feel like a dream' – Foden

    Phil Foden used to joke with his friends about playing in the Champions League final as they kicked a ball around the streets of Stockport.

    In five days' time, it will no longer be pretend. Just a day after his 21st birthday, he will be playing for the biggest prize in European club football.

    "It does feel like a dream," midfielder Foden told BBC sport editor Dan Roan.

    "I would never have thought it would happen so quickly. I'd always laugh and joke with my mates about playing in the Champions League final, [but] I never thought I would be playing in one.

    "It's all gone so quick, I just want to enjoy the occasion as much as I can because you never know if you're going to get another opportunity."

    Fresh from lifting the Premier League trophy on Sunday, Pep Guardiola's side take on Chelsea in the final at Porto's Estadio do Dragao on Saturday.

    The Champions League title has long been the club's target,since it was taken over by its Abu Dhabi-based owners in 2008, and having repeatedly reached the latter stages of the tournament in recent years, they finally get their shot at glory.

    "We're all massively looking forward to it" said Foden. "We can only play like we normally play any other game, and just enjoy it."

    Asked how much of threat Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea pose, Foden said: "A lot of threat. They've beaten us the last two times, it just shows how great a team they are.

    "Since the manager has come in they look even better, so it's going to be a big challenge. We're looking forward to it."

    Phil Foden with the Premier League trophyPhil Foden has won the Premier League three times with Manchester City

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    'A lot of credit goes to Guardiola'

    Despite his age, Foden can now call himself a three-time Premier League champion, having been involved in City's title-winning campaigns in 2017-18, 2018-19 and now 2020-21.

    But having made 28 top-flight appearances and scoring nine goals this season, far more than in those earlier campaigns, he counts the latest triumph as his best yet.

    "It felt more special for me because I played more games and scored more important goals," he said.

    "Obviously we started a bit slow, I think we were in 12th place at one time, but it just shows our character to come back and win the league the way we did.

    "I would say it's down to training so hard every day, the manager working so hard with us and just getting back to basics."

    Foden added: "I feel like I've come on in my game this year and been more myself.

    "There's still a lot to improve and still a lot to get better at."

    He gives the credit to his manager, Guardiola, who has nurtured Foden's talent through his time at the club and previously called him the "most talented player" he has ever seen.

    "A lot [of credit] goes to the manager, to train me the way he does and help me, and also the players as well," Foden said. "They help me play better, so it's a bit of both.

    "I was only young [when he came into the squad] and there were so many great players here, I was never going to get the opportunity until a few players left.

    "Now I'm really doing well and I just want to keep up the good form."

    Phil Foden and Pep GuardiolaPep Guardiola brought Phil Foden into the first-team squad in 2016

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    England have a 'big chance' at Euro 2020

    That good form saw him noticed by England manager Gareth Southgate last year, with Foden making his senior international debut against Iceland on 5 September.

    He is in contention to be named in the squad for this summer's postponed Euro 2020 tournament, which will be announced on Tuesday.

    "If I get selected obviously it will be a dream come true to play at my first senior tournament," said Foden, who won the Under-17 World Cup with England in 2017.

    "All I can say is it's exciting times ahead and I'm looking forward to it."

    England have been drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, Czech Republic, and Scotland, with all three fixtures to be played on home soil at Wembley Stadium.

    Reach the last 16 and they will play in London again, while the semi-finals and final will also be hosted at Wembley.

    Asked how much of a chance that home advantage will give Southgate's side, Foden replied: "I think a big chance. There are a lot of players at the moment on the top of their game.

    "I think we have a great attack, great everywhere all over the pitch.

    "It must be a headache for Gareth to pick the team, but that just shows how many quality players we've got, so I definitely think we can start pushing on to win things now."

    Source

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    May 25, 2021
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