The journey to 93:20: In their own words

How the Premier League's most dramatic
title race was won.

No moment - not even one as iconic as Sergio Aguero's Premier League clinching goal against QPR in May 2012 - exists in isolation.

Without the five wins between a crushing defeat at Arsenal and that fateful day at the Etihad Stadium, history as we know it would not exist.

Roberto Mancini’s team would not have reached the summit of the domestic game that season. The club’s run of 44 years without a top-flight title would have gone on.

As part of our celebrations as we surpass a decade since one of football’s greatest moments, we have interviewed many of those involved that season. Here, they will take us from the Emirates Stadium to the pandemonium at the Etihad in their words.

We start at Arsenal, where Mikel Arteta’s goal has just beaten City and left us eight points behind our great rivals Manchester United with six games to play.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak: As soon as the referee blew the whistle, I had a strong feeling that we were going to win this season. I was not worried, I really felt we just needed to keep it together.

Manager Roberto Mancini: After that game I remember it was a really hard moment because we went eight points behind United.

Al Mubarak: As Chairman you need to choose your moments. There are moments that you need to do something. I wanted to see Roberto first. After his interviews I grabbed him, Roberto was very upset, physically and emotionally drained. We went to the side, and I remember telling him that ‘We’re going to do this. Don’t worry, just take it one game at a time. Don’t worry about United, just worry about us. We’ll take three points from the next game and go to the next game.’

Mancini: He came in the dressing room and he said to me: ‘Don’t worry Roberto, we will win all the games from now until the end and we will win the championship.’ I said: ‘I hope it will be like this.’ We needed these words from Khaldoon.

Al Mubarak: I remember Roberto looking me in the eye and we had a moment, both of us, where it just clicked. I went into the dressing room, the players were all down. I was just shaking hands and chatting with some of them. It was the same message.

Captain Vincent Kompany: All of us thought we couldn’t win the league and thought United wasn’t going to give it away. My point was to win now to build that winning culture for next season. That game drew a line under the second part of the season where we struggled a bit. I remember everything that came after much more clearly.

One player who had been missing for much of the season was Carlos Tevez. The Argentine did not feature from September until the late March visit of Chelsea, following a disagreement with Roberto Mancini during a Champions League fixture at Bayern Munich.

Mancini: I remember the day after Munich I called Carlos and I said say sorry to the team and for me it’s finished now. Carlos said ‘No, no I don’t want to play anymore.’ This situation went on for two or three months and we lost to a lot of teams because we were missing his quality and character.

Tevez: I came back, apologised for the mistake I made at that moment. For me it was a problem with an easy solution but with the Italian, Spanish and English that were shouted in the dressing room it was a complete mess. We [Tevez and Mancini] just had that moment, but afterwards our relationship was always good. As a coach he is so talented and I appreciate him as a person as well.

Al Mubarak: You look back right now and if you ask Carlos he would say right now in hindsight he would have acted differently. Roberto will have a regret also. We could have managed differently, we should have managed it differently.

His first start after his return was the midweek visit of West Bromwich Albion which City won 4-0, while at the same time United lost at Wigan.

Tevez: I remember that I wasn’t fit. I spent 15 or 20 days getting ready. It just made me happy to be inside a football pitch again and I felt important again. That was the starting point for me.

Mancini: Carlos was a very important player for us because of his quality, his character was very important. When he came on the pitch I think it changed something for me and the team.

Kompany: Carlos was a special player, whenever he was with us we were better. He was one of the best players in the world at the time. He came in at the right time for us. We were still finding ourselves, dealing with being a top club and having high standards. We just wanted our best players back. Whatever his situation was, was between him and the club.

Joe Hart: I love hearing the theatre of other games going around me. Of course it filters on to the pitch. That was something I noticed a lot that night.

Next came a trip to Norwich City. A fine attacking display, in particular from Tevez and Aguero, resulted in a 6-1 thrashing of the Canaries.

Tevez: From the first moment I have always got on really well with Aguero. We played a lot of golf together and you could tell on the pitch. That was one of the best matches we played.

Hart: Some of the stuff I was seeing was absolutely phenomenal. John Ruddy was an England goalkeeper and the ball was flying past him, even from shots you wouldn’t expect them to take.

Kompany: That game to me felt like it was a piece of art.

Hope rekindled. If we can play like that, we have a chance. On the way to Wolves, news filters through of dramatic events unfolding at Old Trafford.

Gareth Barry: This moment really sticks in my mind. We were travelling to the game on the coach, the lads started joking and crying wolf and nobody knew whether Everton had scored or not. All of a sudden they [United] had dropped points and it was back in our hands now.

Kompany: I always remember Fellaini after the game sending me a message saying: ‘Now it’s up to you’. Everton knew what they did at Old Trafford.

Mancini: The players were cheering and happy on the coach to Wolves. That moment was the key moment in the season because they lost two points at home.

Al Mubarak: I was at home. I don’t like watching the teams that are close to us at the end of the season. When I do watch them they end up winning so I just wait for the results, it’s a lot easier for your health. I lasted 15 minutes of the second half and then I put the TV on and watched the last 30 minutes. Watching how Everton squeezed that result, you can see the momentum shift.

At Molineux, Joe Hart was in inspired form as we registered a 2-0 win. Now it was in our hands.

Just over a year on from an FA Cup semi-final that broke our fear of our city rivals and more than six months on from an Old Trafford trip that will never be forgotten, yet another derby that could claim to be the biggest of all-time was upon us.

Kompany: There were no other fixtures that day so it felt like the world was watching. Some were supporting the team that was the giant, some wanted to see an upset. The city was vibrant, that was the only thing that mattered.

Hart: It was a huge story, BBC made a one-off Match of the Day on a Monday night just for our game.

A tense affair is won by a thumping Vincent Kompany header.

Hart: Maybe we were nervous, but Vinnie rose the way he did and took the game by the scruff of the neck. The place erupted.

Kompany: I always liked the deliveries from David [Silva]. They were starting to put swerve on corners and hitting them like freekicks, which I really didn’t like. David had this nice curve, the ball was predictable and all you had to do was attack it and want it more than who you were up against.

Barry: That was the best atmosphere I ever played in. The fans really played their part and the noise levels were something I’ve not experienced before.

Mancini: We celebrated after the game. We were on the top after many weeks and in that moment we have everything in our hands. We had a big chance to win and for this reason we celebrate but we knew that we had other difficult games so we need to have concentration. in that moment we changed something in Manchester after many years.

Two games to go. Next up is a trip to Champions League chasing Newcastle and the cauldron that is St James’ Park.

Yaya Toure: In that period, Newcastle was one of the best teams in England. They were beating everyone and they were so strong.

Kompany: After the pre-match dinner, Yaya said to me ‘Vinnie with the heading and elbows, you did well this season. Now it’s my time.’ He goes into the game scores two goals and I’m like ‘How does he predict this?’. It was Yaya at his best. There was no other way to win it that day.

Mancini: That day we played very well, Yaya played a fantastic game but we won the game because all the team played very well. Newcastle were a good team but Yaya played one of the best games in his history.

Hart: He decided in his head that we was going to put the ball in the goal and he made the game look ridiculously easy.

Yaya: When there were important games, Yaya doesn’t talk he just completes his mission. If you are a big player, you have to step up in a huge match. I told Joleon I will score two goals and said if we keep a clean sheet we will win. I told Kompany as well and they were amazed by the way I was acting. I predicted that because I feel it in myself.

It all comes down to this. Surely we have too much for relegation threatened QPR, don’t we?

Kompany: A game like QPR even today would make me nervous. The preparation was different. As captain I didn’t plan for us winning the league, after Arsenal I think most of the lads were planning holidays. We won at St James’ Park and now we are thinking ‘Teams that win, what do they do? Do you book a hotel? What venue do you party at?’

Yaya: We were training well but on the day of the game the pressure was very high. Collectively, we knew we had a better team than them but that the problem could be us.

Sergio Aguero: Before the game I was so nervous. I remember one day before the game we always played poker. That night there were three players. Normally, we had five or six players. We only had three because the other players were nervous.

Barry: I was certainly thinking we had one hand on the trophy. Our home form was fantastic and we had every right to believe we were nearly there.

Mario Balotelli: When it is a long time without winning the title and you are waiting for this moment for a long time, they probably underestimated the game a little bit. You always have to play. You never win before you play.

Mancini: The pressure was very difficult in that moment and we probably didn’t play well for this reason.

Pablo Zabaleta opens the scoring shortly before half-time.

Zabaleta: That’s the forgotten goal, Sergio stole my moment. That was my only goal of the season!

Aguero: When Zabaleta scored it was important because now we think we have more space in the game. In the second half, when QPR score we know we don’t have more space. We will always remember that goal but we always will remember my goal more because it was more important! Sorry Zaba!

Joey Barton is sent off and QPR go 2-1 up in the second half.

Hart: Paddy Kenny was making miraculous saves. Everyone starts to think that there is some strange stuff going on here. I became a bystander for the last ten minutes which is a horrible situation for a goalkeeper.

Kompany: Usually I’m the guy who will be believing anything can happen but that moment I’m thinking about how I can pick the lads up again. It’s the biggest disappointment in your life. Everything you had worked for, you’ve thrown it all away.

Aguero: When I saw it was 89 minutes, I think okay we will lose. We have a corner and Dzeko scored. I look to Mancini and he says ‘Come on!’. We have three or four minutes more.

Barry: I had a conversation with James Milner, saying the helicopter in the air was taking the trophy to the Stadium of Light. We knew United had won there.

Balotelli: I remember De Jong took the ball and then I saw Sergio moving out of the area towards De Jong. Everyone was waiting for a long shot. When you have to score, normally everyone goes in the area and they put the ball high in the air. Then I saw Sergio going out of the area and in my head I thought, maybe he needs a one-two.

When he gave me the ball, I controlled it, but in my head I was controlling to shoot. I wanted to shoot. I don’t remember who was with me, the defender from QPR, but he pushed me and the ball went a little bit too far [away from me]. Then I see Sergio running and Kompany running and then I slid and tried to give it him in space.

Aguero: I was lucky because I remember that game I played so bad. When I received the ball I knew I needed to do something and that was when I scored.

Mancini: My emotion in that moment was for all the City supporters, for Khaldoon, for Sheikh Mansour because they invest a lot of money for City and we work very hard for many years to build this team. To win the first title is always very difficult, after it can change when you win for many years.

Aguero: When I was young in my country I would take off my shirt so that’s what I did. All the players hugged me and said ‘Sergio I love you’ and I said leave me alone because I was in shock.

Hart: Emotionally, I wasn’t there. It took a lot out of me and I wasn’t able to take it all in. I was happy and excited but it just passed me by really quickly. I look back at those photos now and it was just a really fun time to be alive.

Al Mubarak: This was a moment that any fan of any sport will watch and appreciate how remarkable and unique it was what happened that day. To live it, to have been part of it. This will remain one of the most iconic moments in sports.

Kompany: Everybody will remember what they were doing at that moment in time. It was not just one goal and one trophy, it was 40 years of suffering and one team who brought success back to Manchester City.