There have been several on-pitch turning points in the modern Manchester City’s journey to where they are today, but there’s one in particular that sticks out.
It involves one of City’s greatest players of the current era, Sergio Aguero, and signified a transition to success and led to a redefining of the phrase “typical City.”
Aguero has today been recognised for his achievements at the club with a statue outside the Etihad Stadium.
Members of the 2011/12 title-winning squad along with thousands of fans joined the Argentine to celebrate the occasion celebration at Depot Mayfield in Manchester.
The club also released a documentary focusing on that turning point and one of the greatest moments in the club’s history—Aguero’s dramatic winning goal in that title win.
But first, it’s useful to go back a couple of months before the now legendary striker’s transfer to City from Atletico Madrid.
When Manchester City won the FA Cup under Roberto Mancini in May 2011, their last last top-flight honour was a League Cup win in 1976. Their last FA Cup win was in 1969 and they had also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970.
Prior to Aguero’s arrival, and his own important moment, Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure was setting the scene.
Toure scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Stoke City to win City their first trophy in 35 years, but perhaps more momentous was his goal in the semifinal against Manchester United. These two Wembley goals gave City the belief they could win trophies and also hinted at a power shift in Manchester, and their importance cannot be underestimated when looking at what came next.
Winning a cup competition is one thing, but the real test of a team’s quality comes in the league, and this is where Aguero, enshrined further in City folklore thanks to this new steel sculpture designed by Andy Scott, comes in.
He’s the third player of this era to be memorialized in this way, along with David Silva and Vincent Kompany.
Aguero’s moment came in the 2011/12 Premier League title race with United which went down to the wire.
The unveiling of the statue on the morning of May 13 came on the anniversary of the Argentine’s goal against Queens Park Rangers in the final game of that season, which won the title for City in the 94th minute of the game. The time of the goal, 93:20, is now etched in the club’s history.
It was one of those moments in football that not even scriptwriters could dream up. That it was United on the other end of it again only further confirmed this shift in power in the city, adding to Toure’s heroics in the previous season’s FA Cup.
“Truthfully, it is a very beautiful thing for me, to see myself 10 years ago is very moving,” Aguero said after his statue was unveiled.
“In those 10 years, I was able to win a lot of trophies and was able to help the club become one of the most important in the world.
“I am very grateful to the club for making this statue in recognition of my football career in Manchester. It is something very special.”
Aguero went on to become City’s all-time top goalscorer with 260 goals in all competitions, claiming five Premier League titles, six EFL/League Cups, and an FA Cup in 2019 as part of a domestic treble unprecedented in English men’s football.
He left the club for Barcelona at the end of the 2020/21 season but was forced to retire in December 2021 after being diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia.
His statue will be lit up at night along with those of Kompany and Silva.
“It has been an honour to work on a project that means so much to Manchester City fans around the world in celebration of such an important player in the life of this football club,” said Scott.
“I was under no illusions about how important this was to the club, to the fans, to Sergio himself and I hope that this statue brings joy and happiness to all who see it.”
Aguero’s statue will be a permanent reminder of the achievements, and the moments, provided by a striker who’s not only City’s greatest, but one of the greatest the game has seen.