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Gio Kinkladze interview and charity match

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Those who remember his grace and skill still wax lyrical about the days Giorgi Kinkladze played for City.

‘Genius’ and ‘maestro’ were often used to describe the diminutive Georgian playmaker who admitted he sacrificed the opportunity of playing for Barcelona and any number of other top European clubs to remain with the Blues despite relegation from the Premier League in 1996.

Had he moved to the Nou Camp, he would, of course, become a team-mate of Pep Guardiola and perhaps gone on to fulfil his potential, but instead the Blues’ 1995/96 Player of the Year decided to stay at Maine Road in a bid to win promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt.

Kinky joined City from Dinamo Tbilisi in 1995 and quickly became a terrace idol for supporters during a difficult time for the Club.

Manager Alan Ball promised fans would be “hanging from the rafters” to get a glimpse of the Georgian in action and he wasn’t far wrong.

Blessed with the kind of dribbling ability only players like Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona seem to possess and a range of passing that Ali Benarbia would be proud of, Kinky was a shining light in a struggling team that drew two and lost nine of the opening 11 games of the 1995/96 season.