Patrick Vieira brought an end to five glorious years at City on Tuesday afternoon.
The Frenchman spoke to mcfc.co.uk following his final game in charge of City u19s as the curtain came down on his time in Manchester and ushered in a new chapter of his glittering career at New York City FC.
Vieira won the FA Cup with City as a player, the International Premier League Cup as Head of City EDS and guided the u19s through to the knockout stages of the UEFA Youth League for three successive seasons but none of those incredible achievements represent his proudest moment at the club.
Instead, the 39-year old pointed to the increasing prevalence of players bridging the gap between the academy and first-team as the most pleasing aspect in his time at the club.
“My favourite and proudest moment at this club was seeing Manu Garcia play with the first-team against Crystal Palace and to score a goal,” Vieira smiled after managing City u19s to the draw they needed to qualify in top spot from UEFA Youth League Group.
“My proudest moments are looking at a first-team teamsheet and seeing three or four players from the EDS there.
“That’s what we we’re working for, that’s the target – when I see young players go from the Academy to the first-team. That’s what it’s all for.”
Patrick admitted to mixed emotions after his final game in charge – excitement at the prospect of his first managerial job with New York City FC but sadness at leaving behind the crop of players he’s worked with since June 2013.
However, he believes that the players are in the best possible hands with new appointment, his former Assistant, Simon Davies.
Vieira told us: “It’s difficult to talk about emotions – on one hand, I’m really sad to leave these players after we’ve worked together for the last two and a half years and I’ve seen them grow up, not just as people but as footballers too.
“On the other hand, I’m really proud and pleased as the football club has given me a fantastic opportunity to manage a first-team, so I’m really excited about the new project. I have a mixed feeling.
“For me, there’s no better option than Simon to take over – Simon knows the game, he’s been here at the club for years and years and he understands how to develop young players.
“Simon is really passionate about his role and about football – the boys are in really good hands.”
Vieira will take up the reigns at NYCFC in the New Year but he revealed that he will keep Manchester City in his heart forever – a club he has grown to love since originally joining as a player in 2010.
He also revealed what he said to the players in the dressing room following the final game of his tenure at the Academy Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
“I love this football club – it gave me the opportunity to know what I really wanted to do after my career,” Vieira declared.
“That’s why this football club will always be a part of me – I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at this club – the players, the fans, the staff, Brian Marwood – everyone.
“I told the players in the dressing room after the game that I was really fortunate to be offered this job with the EDS, to work with them for the past two and a half years has been incredible and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.”
From everyone at Manchester City FC: Good luck at New York City FC, Patrick!