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Phil Foden on Man City vs Chelsea, Guardiola and taking the UEFA Champions League final in his stride

"Nothing's going to change how I prepare," City's inspired midfielder tells UEFA.com.

Phil Foden in training at the stadium on the eve of the final
Phil Foden in training at the stadium on the eve of the final UEFA via Getty Images

A boyhood Manchester City fan, raised in nearby Stockport, Phil Foden has grown up with the UEFA Champions League. He was just 17 when Josep Guardiola handed him his club debut in a December 2017 group stage game and, after having to bide his time, is now a City regular.

The stylish midfielder scored the winner in both quarter-finals against Borussia Dortmund, and is now preparing for the club’s first ever UEFA Champions League final – which will take place the day after he turns 21. The meeting with Premier League rivals Chelsea is a massive occasion for the 20-year-old, but Foden tells UEFA.com he will be doing his best to treat it like just another game.

On turning 21 the day before the final

Foden's stunning City winner
Foden's stunning City winner

I’m sure that’s got to be the best birthday present if we win. Hopefully, if we win, I can celebrate with my family, which will be nice. They keep telling me how much they miss going to games this year and they’ve got nothing to do. So, hopefully they can come to the stadium and watch the final. That would be a special moment for me.

I’m just going to go into the final the same way as any other game: just smiling, and [saying] let’s see how it goes. So, nothing’s going to change how I prepare. Everything’s just going to be the same.

On playing under Guardiola

Everyone knows he’s one of the best coaches to ever be out there. Just to play under him is very special, and not with just me, with everyone; he gives them the freedom to play; he just loves playing out from the back, and playing beautiful football. It suits my style a lot and I’m just happy to keep working with him, and keep improving.

I used to watch Barcelona as a kid: it was unbelievable. The way [Guardiola] set them up and how they played one-touch and two-touch football was unbelievable, and I never would have thought that he would be my coach some day. I just remember always watching [them] with my dad and thinking: ‘Wow! What a team this is and what a coach they have!’ [Guardiola] has tried to bring that kind of football here and it seems to be working.

On making it to the first team

Manchester City: On The Spot
Manchester City: On The Spot

It was very difficult to get in [to the side]. I just kept believing in myself and trusting the manager. This year has been really good for me. There were a lot of players [who] put their arms around me and just told me to keep training the best I can and to keep wanting more. Vincent Kompany was one of them, and Fernandinho – two great captains and just great leaders. Off the pitch, there are things that people don’t see where they’re bringing a player up and making him feel better about himself.

On facing Chelsea in Porto

Since [Thomas Tuchel] has come in, they’ve been such a strong team; barely lost any games, and obviously they beat us recently. So, we know what they’re about now and it’s going to be a really big challenge in the final, but it’s just a one-off game, anything can happen. [My family] just keep telling me that they can’t believe that I’m going to play in the Champions League final.