Awards

More to come, says Footballer of the Year Phil Foden

Phil Foden thanks the FWA for his award and says there is more to come from him and Manchester City

There is more to come from Phil Foden and his Manchester City team-mates, revealed the 23-year-old as he collected his Footballer of the Year award, which he said was “really special.”

Foden won 42 per cent of the vote to succeed team-mate Erling Haaland and make it a double for City as club mate Bunny Shaw won our women’s Footballer of the Year award.

Although Foden was unable to attend Thursday night’s awards dinner because he was preparing for Sunday’s title decider against West Ham, the England star was presented with his award by FWA Chair John Cross and then sat down with Gerry Cox of the FWA for this exclusive interview.

Full Transcript

Q. Phil, congratulations on becoming the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year. You’ve probably seen that there’s a pantheon of some of the greatest names in English football, how does it feels to be among that company?

Yes, really special. You know, playing in the Premier League, the toughest league for me, I said, at the start of the year in one of my interviews I wanted to try to be one of the best players in our league. And I think this season my game has come on loads, and I’ve performed really well. So I’m delighted to be amongst so many special players that have won the award before. So yes, it’s a pleasure.

Q. Looking back over the season, how do you feel things have gone for you – happy the way you have progressed this year?

Definitely. Like I said, my game has come on a lot . I’ve moved more centrally, where I see myself in the future. I’m just playing with freedom and playing with a smile on my face. And I think this year my performances have been good most games. So I’m delighted with that.

Q. And more goals, more assists. Is that something you consciously thought at the start of the season that you’d like to do?

Definitely. Being an attacking player at Man City, you want that responsibility to try and score goals and assist my teammates. I think playing higher up, that’s what the aim is to do. I put that pressure on myself and I like that pressure. So I’m delighted that I’ve scored so many goals and assisted this year. So I’m delighted with the outcome.

Q. A lot of pundits asked, after Ilkay Gundogan went last year, who’s the player who’s going to fill that gap. And you’ve come in with those important goals as well. But also with Kevin De Bruyne being injured in the first part of the season, you helped to fill that creativity gap as well. Did you thrive on that challenge?

Yeah, definitely. It was tough to lose Kevin and Erling for a large part of the season. But you know, with this group of players, there’s so many special players, and so many good players that step up. I knew that I had to step up with the players missing and try and help my team as much as I could. I think I showed that so I am delighted.

Q. We spoke to Kyle Walker after the Spurs game and he was talking about the mentality, and it’s a really tight band of brothers. And you’ll all have a word with each other if you need to. Is that part of the key to the success here? .

Definitely We’re such a professional group and when we’re not performing well, we’ll have a group meeting and get things back on track. Kyle has been a good leader this year, and a great captain for doing that. And that just shows the hunger that we still love to achieve trophies and wanting to win. It’s so nice to be a part of this group.

Q. And tell us a bit about Pep Guardiola. How important has he been for your career? And how strong a leader is he for the whole group?

Yeah, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to be my coach. I feel like he’s improved me so much since I first started training with the first team. So I’m only still 23 and I still want to keep taking advice and try and get even better.

Q. When you joined the Academy you were a very young lad. Could you imagine one day all this would be coming your way?

Obviously, you have a dream. But yeah. It was so challenging with the players that we had in the first team. But I knew it was possible and I always believed in myself and worked hard every day. I’m just delighted now I’m getting rewards for working hard every day.

Q. Do you think it’s important for you, but especially for the fans that you’re you are a fan? You’re a local boy, you’re one of their own? Does that help for you and and for the fans, someone to identify with?

I feel like it means a little bit more for me, obviously, growing up in the academy, going through each age group, and then playing in the first team. So yeah, it is a dream come true playing in this special team. And I feel like it’s a little bit extra special for me.

Q. Obviously a big win at Spurs on Tuesday night. The job’s almost done, but you can’t go into Sunday’s game thinking it’s done. We saw what happened with Aston Villa a couple of years ago. So what will be the message from Pep and from the other guys?

Yes, like you touched on there, it’s been such a challenge on the last day so many times we’ve been behind and had to come back. So it’s not going to be a straightforward game. We know that the job’s not done. West Ham have a big threat going forward so we have to remain calm and just try to play football.

Q. The rest of the world seems to see the inevitability of City putting a run of wins together at the end of the season. Do you guys feel like that? Do you feel you’re going on a run and just growing confidence as it as it gathers momentum?

I find the belief is there because we’ve done it before. And we showed again that we can do it this season. But now we just have to remain focused because it’s still one more game to go and all our thoughts are on that game.

Q. And then after that, the FA Cup Final – a small matter of another Manchester derby. Will it take a bit of a gear shift mentally to get into the mode for that cup final?

Yes, it is still a while away. So after the West Ham game, whatever happens, the focus is going to be United after that. It’s going to be a special occasion because it’s a derby at Wembley, the same as last season. These are the games that you want to play in as a player – you want to play in the biggest games?

Q. And is it one that the fans take more seriously as well? They’ll talk to you about that? You know, we must win this one because it’s United.

Yes, I feel like when it’s a derby it means more for the fans and more for the players. It’s a game that you want to play in as a player. So I’m just looking forward to it.

Q. And then the Euros. A lot of people are thinking this could be England’s year, how are the lads thinking.

Yes, we’re full of belief and full of confidence. I think we showed in previous tournaments we’ve been so close. I think the quality of players is there. We’ve got so much quality around the pitch. So it’s possible – we just have to go now and I’m proud of it.

Q. And some of your peers, some of the lads coming through such as Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham has had an amazing season in Madrid. So there’s a lot of young talent pushing to be in the side, isn’t it?

Yes it’s nice to see all the young players doing so well. Especially Cole, after being here with him, to see him have an unbelievable season. So hopefully we can all connect really well going into the Euros and perform really well.

Q. At the other end of the age scale, Harry Kane, he’s had a fantastic year in Germany, he’s adapted to playing there scoring goals for fun. That must augur well for England as well.

Definitely. It’s so good to see how Harry scoring goals going into the tournament. That’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to win anything. So yeah, just looking forward to it.

Q. If you could just sum it up in a nutshell, what would be your dream end to this summer? Where would you be come the middle of July?

Over to win the Euros. And then before you know it, we’re back and ready for another season. So that’s the aim, to hopefully win the Euros

Fantastic. Thanks for your time and congratulations again.

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