Greg Cunningham has paid tribute to the coach that helped him and many others rise through the ranks of City’s youth system before breaking into the first team.
The young left back was guided by Alex Gibson, who announced this week that he is to move on to pastures new after a hugely successful 12 years at the club, during which time 31 players from the Academy made it into the first team.
The Irish youngster has made a couple of appearances for the Blues in 2010, and he was happy to show his gratitude to Alex from City’s pre-season visit to the US.
“Alex is a brilliant coach,” the 19-year-old asserts. “I found that he got the best out of all the players. We all progressed under him, he taught us about discipline, professionalism and how to take your game on. He was fantastic to work with, I'm sorry to see him leave but I wish him all the best for the future. I'll call him to thank him for everything he did for me and I hope I keep in touch with him.”
Cunningham, whose fine year has also seen him capped at full international level by the Republic of Ireland, says he now knows what’s needed to cope with the demands of training alongside some world-class players on a daily basis.
“I'm trying to bulk up a bit, but in a good way!” Greg smiles. “I might have grown a bit, but the Premier League is so physical that you have to make that step up to cope with it. As well as that you have got to get quicker and sort your touch out, you have to get everything right technically as well as physically.
It's the most demanding league in the world, but in training I'm up against some of the best players in the world here at City! Your football is going to improve by playing with them day in, day out so I hope to keep progressing and keep pushing on.
...Greg on the demands of the Premier League
Aleksander Kolarov’s recent arrival gives City even more options on the left hand side, but Greg is undaunted by the prospect of even more competition for places.
“It's the same at any club, as a young player you are going to have competition but that's a good thing. You have to push yourself, I just need to keep my head down, keep progressing and pushing so hopefully things come together for me.
“The Manager's not afraid to look to youth, so all I can do like everyone else is keep plugging away, keep working hard, keep improving and maybe get a chance.”