Playing against a boyhood hero on City’s pre-season tour will be a lasting memory for Dedryck Boyata.
The Belgian centre-half went head-to-head with Thierry Henry when the Blues played New York Red Bulls last Sunday, and while the result was not what Dedryck would have asked for, the chance to play against brilliant Frenchman thrilled the 19-year-old
City’s Young Player of the Season for 09/10 told mcfc.co.uk, “When I was a lot younger I was a striker, not a defender and I had two idols - Michael Owen and Thierry Henry. So playing against Henry was incredible for me.
“I did not want to say anything in front of everybody else, but I could not wait to play against him when I knew I was playing on Sunday. It was a dream come true for me, but I had to stay focussed because I had to forget that it was Thierry Henry and concentrate on my job. I had to keep cool and show that I could play against him, but I really enjoyed the experience.
“He's still a classy player. Coming from Belgium, we always knew all about him and the other great French players. We knew all about him, we all wanted to play against him and now I have I'm so happy.”
Partnering Dedryck in defence was fellow City Academy graduate Ben Mee, and reflecting on how far he has come since joining City in 2007 Dedryck pays tribute to his friend who led the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2008.
“Ben was the one who really helped me when I first came to City,” he adds, “I could not speak English very well then and he helped me improve. For both of us to play against Henry together in New York in the heat and the rain was amazing, we still can't believe it!”
Dedryck seemed like a surprise choice to some when he appeared for the first team around the turn of last year, but he was unfazed by two Manchester derbies and played with old head on young shoulders. But success has not changed him and he won’t make bold predictions as to what 2010/11 may bring.
He adds, “I'm not going to say big things about what I'm going to do this year. The Manager is the one who chooses the team, so I'll just keep training, keep working hard and hope that the Manager picks me. But I am looking forward to the new season, being part of this squad with all these great players is fantastic and is helping me improve all the time.”