JACK GAUGHAN: Sergio Aguero is the phenomenon who changed Manchester City’s world more than ANY other player… he was a global superstar without ego
- Sergio Aguero retired from football on Wednesday due to his health issues
- The Barcelona striker discovered heart problems on his first start for the club
- Aguero joined Barca in the summer after a glittering career at Manchester City
- City’s record goalscorer, he scored that goal against QPR to win the 2011-12 title
There was a banner draped at the Etihad Stadium one sunny afternoon last May, as tears and champagne flowed in equal measure. ‘Thank you, Sergio. You changed our lives.’
And he did. Sergio Aguero was more transformative than any other single player to have pulled on a Manchester City jersey over the last decade. David Silva’s grace and Vincent Kompany’s leadership run him close but it is not really a contest. The trio will stand together immortalised at City’s home when Aguero’s statue is finished next year.
The day he bid farewell to the east of this city will live long in the memory of those 10,000 lucky enough to snaffle a ticket. Aguero, not match fit following a year of injuries, came off the bench after 65 minutes of City’s demolition job on Everton. A carnival ensued.
Sergio Aguero broke down in tears as he revealed his retirement from football on Wednesday
The Argentine scored 420 goals in 764 career games, including a record 260 for Man City
He scored twice on his final game for Manchester City – a 5-0 win over Everton in May this year
His finest hour came in his 94th minute title-winning goal for City against QPR in 2012
By minute 76, he had scored twice. Of course he had. Both assisted by his great mate, Fernandinho. Aguero’s scriptwriter – surely someone in high demand now – had made it so that his debut, against Swansea City in 2011, ended with a brace from the bench too. Nice bookends.
It will come as no surprise to hear the reverence in which they talk about him around the City Football Academy, given all that was achieved. The five Premier League titles, the FA Cup and six League Cups. The five consecutive seasons in which he plundered 20 or more goals.
The most iconic moment in Premier League history at the end of his first season, which launched the club into a new stratosphere. The blistering near-post rocket that saw the Etihad catch fire during a pulsating victory over Liverpool in 2019 amid the tensest title race in some while. That strike, thundered past Alisson in an instant, is probably the most Aguero goal he has ever scored. Bar one, maybe.
That’s all fine, his legend always secured regardless, but the impact he had as an individual around the place is no less important. A man lacking ego, a global superstar without the expected airs that come with it. He would do the school visits without question, he helped teach Spanish to local children during lockdown. A man who would choose a family barbeque down in Cheshire over a night in town.
When Phil Foden, City’s next superstar, started training with City’s first team, he could not stop staring at him. That’s Sergio Aguero. The sheer aura, built like a Rubik’s cube with a broad smile and infectious laughter. The tributes to him behind closed doors were heartfelt. Aguero raffled off his Range Rover when he left, kit man Ally Marland the recipient. Every other staff member was handed an engraved watch.
Team-mates recognised the journey he took, particularly under Pep Guardiola. Because that was not an easy path, a dinner at Salvi’s on Deansgate in January 2017 changing the course of his City career. During Guardiola’s first season, that the striker’s future was even slightly uncertain served as a bolt around the club.
Phil Foden, now a City star in his own right, was in awe of Aguero when he broke through
Aguero’s future at the Etihad looked in doubt when Pep Guardiola challenged him to do more
However, they soon kissed and made up with Aguero firing City to more domestic success
The pair met over an Italian in the hours after Gabriel Jesus was officially announced as a City player and became a direct rival to someone who had gone so long largely unchallenged. Guardiola wanted more from Aguero, more of an all-round contribution, and the Argentine took that on board. He ended up playing his best football in the two years afterwards.
There was also disappointment at how the final campaign panned out – rarely picked given fitness problems and then contracting coronavirus – but ultimately Aguero understood why. He understood that City would have to move on without him. When Guardiola called him into the training ground in March to inform him that his contract was not being renewed, the 33-year-old knew the day had been coming. He was an unused substitute in the Champions League final with desperate for an equaliser. Does a half-fit Aguero get on the end of one of those relentless crosses in Porto? We’ll never know. Guardiola will never know.
But here is a genuine great, the sort of player every child attempts to replicate in back alleys whose career is cruelly cut short by health problems. Nobody, not even Thierry Henry, has recorded a better minutes-per-goal record since the Premier League’s inception. Aguero scored every 108 minutes in the toughest league on the planet.
Aguero obliterated Eric Brook’s goalscoring record at City, finishing on 260. But he never reached 50 appearances in any of his ten seasons at the club. Imagine the numbers if niggling injuries had not taken hold. ‘I wasn’t bad, was I?’ he asked somewhat sheepishly during an emotionally charged press conference at the Nou Camp. No, you weren’t. The guy was, is and always will be a phenomenon.
Sadly, Aguero was an unused substitute during City’s Champions League final defeat in May
Despite that, the 33-year-old will forever be a City legend for his actions on-and-off the pitch
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