Proof that our Academy scouts had their eyes and ears open far and wide comes in the shape of talented Slovakian Vladimir Weiss.
It’s no surprise that young Vladi has gone as far as he has, with his father, Vladimir senior, having himself had a distinguished playing career which included appearances at the 1990 World Cup amongst his 19 full international caps for what was then Czechoslovakia.
Following in his father’s footsteps after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Vladi made a name for himself as a skilful speed merchant on the right wing, and City nipped in to bring him to Manchester from Slovakia alongside fellow countrymen Robbie Mak and Filip Mentel.
While the other two did well enough without rising into the senior set-up, Vladi did thanks to a stellar contribution to the Under 18 side’s FA Youth Cup triumph in 2008.
Captain Ben Mee had levelled the aggregate scores in the second leg of the final against Chelsea, but it was Vladi who got City’s noses in front before half time
Many expected him to feature prominently on the right wing for the first team the following season, but the return of Shaun Wright-Phillips thwarted those hopes, although Vladi got his head down to perform consistently for the reserves.
It was a surprise that he had to wait until the very end of the season to make his bow for the first team, appearing as a second-half substitute in 2008/09’s final game, at home to Bolton. He was the only Academy player to be blooded for the senior side by Mark Hughes in his time as City boss.
A handful of appearances in the Carling and FA Cup in 2009/10, including a goal against Arsenal, came before a loan move to Bolton in January 2010.
Vladi impressed with the opportunity given to him by Owen Coyle, and his displays for Wanderers helped book his ticket to the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Slovakia, coached by Weiss senior, were knocked out by eventual finalists the Netherlands in the last 16 and Weiss junior acquitted himself well in his three appearances.
City spent big once again that summer and with first-team chances appearing limited, Vladi was loaned to Rangers. He helped the Ibrox club to another Scottish league title and gained more valuable experience in the Champions League.
Vladi has subsequently been loaned out once more, this time to La Liga club Espanyol. Playing in one of the world’s top leagues cannot but help Vladi and there remains the chance that he may return to City and thrive in sky blue in the future.