Bournemouth defender Sylvain Distin has admitted one the proudest periods of his career was when he was City’s skipper.
Voted the MCFC Player of the Year for 2003/04, Distin spent five years with the Blues, making 206 appearances before moving to Portsmouth in 2007 and then Everton in 2009.
He will return with the Cherries this weekend as he continues his lengthy Premier League career that has so far spanned 13 years.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe offered the 37-year-old the chance to extend his career in the top flight and Distin accepted and is now just a handful of games short of 700 career appearances.
“Things have been going really well at Bournemouth – it’s a great club and I know the area well from my time at Portsmouth,” said Distin.
Returning to City is something always I look forward to. I look back at my time with City with great pride
“It was my second club in England and when I joined in 2002, we had just won promotion and it proved to be a difficult first year for us, but we brought in some good players and established ourselves.
“It was an interesting and, at times, tough few years but we managed to keep the club in the Premier League and stabilise ourselves and the club has gone from strength to strength since.
“I’ve been back quite a few times over the years and the first three or four of those were special because I still had so many friends there, but it’s nearly ten years since I left City now and obviously there aren’t as many people left that I know apart from Joe Hart who was just beginning at the club and was still a kid back then and a few people in the media team – and Chappy of course!
“So much has changed since then so while I always enjoy coming back, it’s not the same as it used to be. It’s always a pleasure to return but less emotional because I don’t recognise the place anymore – but in a good way that is great for City.
“Of the current players, I only know Gael Clichy from City’s French contingent because he used to be my neighbour when I played for Everton. I have obviously played against Samir and Bacary once or twice but that’s it.”
So of the 200-plus game for the Blues, which is Sylvain’s stand-out memory?
“My favourite memory is without doubt the FA Cup replay against Tottenham,” he smiled.
“We were 3-0 down at half-time at White Hart Lane and then Joey Barton got himself sent off so we were down to ten men but we came back and won 4-3 which was amazing. I managed to score our first goal and we just found the spirit and fight we needed and turned the game on its head. It was an amazing game to be part of.”
Distin believes Bournemouth could have perhaps made a better beginning to Premier League life than they have so far – but it’s not been terrible and eight points from eight games is a decent return for any newly-promoted club.
“There was a lot of attention on us before the season began and a lot of people tipped us to go down, but we’ve started reasonably well – I have to say I think it could have been better –but it’s not been bad,” he said.
“We’ve continued to play good football and I think that’s changed the point of view so many had about us and our chances of survival. We are just focusing on ourselves, working hard and do our best to remain in the Premier League.
I suppose my ideal season would obviously be Bournemouth staying up, Everton qualifying for the Champions League and City and Portsmouth winning their league titles as well
“I think City have a great chance this year because the teams behind have been quite inconsistent and I think everything is looking bright for the club. We’ll look to take points today of course, but I only wish City and the supporters the very best going forward.”
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