Men's Team

Man City squad send tributes to Zabaleta

Man City squad send tributes to Zabaleta
Manchester City's 3-1 win over West Brom on Tuesday marked the final home game of Pablo Zabaleta's Blues career.

The Argentine defender, who has made 333 appearances for the Club, has helped City to two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups since joining in 2008 from Espanyol. 

But more than that, he's become a Club legend. His bond with the fans is unique, and on Tuesday he was given the opportunity to say goodbye to the supporters with a farewell speech and presentation on the Etihad pitch.

It was one of the most emotional nights in the Club's recent history. 

After the game, Club journalist Rob Pollard spoke to a number of first-team players and staff to find out why Zabaleta is so revered by so many people. 

Vincent Kompany

"It was an amazing send off. I think he represents a lot of the values that the people of Manchester look up to. Very simple things but, you know, hard work, commitment, passion – all these things that you associate with people from Manchester.

"The rest of it is he was a good player. His quality and how he was able to improve the team over so many years was something hard to do. And there was a lot of competition around, too, so for him to stick around for that long and have an impact for that long is pretty special.

"I think we followed a little bit the same path. Talent plays a role, of course, because he is a talented player, but at times perhaps me and Pablo were the smallest names in the team for a while when all the new transfers were coming in.

"But every single time we managed to prove that our place was here – and not only could we participate but maybe we could be a key reason to make the club achieve all the wonderful things we’ve achieved over the years."


"When he plays he gives everything on the pitch, always 100 per cent. For that, everybody loves him.

"He was a very, very important player for this team for the nine years he has been here. Of course, he is a top player.

"He is a leader, he is a top guy, a very good person – not just on the pitch but outside the pitch as well. We have been together in many situations and he is a very, very good guy."

Raheem Sterling

"He’s a massive player.

"Since I’ve been here, he’s given everything on the pitch. His time has been limited as well, so it’s a credit to him then when he gets out there, he always puts in a shift.

"He’s a player that’s played in midfield this season, which shows how versatile he is. He’s an asset to the club and it’s sad to see him leave.

"He’s a real character. He’s one of the people with the biggest say in the dressing room, so you can tell why he’s been vice captain for such a long time. I’m happy to be able to say I played with him."

Brian Kidd

"It’s been a privilege. I’ve been very lucky in my career but they don’t come any better than Pablo Zabaleta. Forget about him as a footballer but as a person - fantastic. Can't say enough good about him.

"He’s unique. I always say football clubs are about people and he is a wonderful person.

"He has time for everybody, the young players…it’s just what a football club needs.

"He’s a diamond. Personally, I love the lad. Fantastic. He’s up there. Everyone goes on about the silky skills of the technical players, but it’s people like Zaba that gets you the trophies and keeps you in contention.

"Everything you want to see in a player, it’s in Zaba.

"I just wish him and his family all the best."

Kelechi Iheanacho

"I love him. He’s a great person and a great leader as well. He’s very, very strong and he’s a legend at City.

"He’s encouraged me in training and in games.

"Personally, for me, it was emotional today. I wanted to cry. He’s a great man, Zaba, so him leaving is something I didn’t want to think about. But I’m happy for him because he’s a great player and because of his achievements.

"He looked after me very well - right from when I was in the EDS he’s looked after me, speaks to me all the time.

"I’m happy playing alongside him in training and in games. He’s a good man. Everyone loves him, the players the fans, everyone.

"It’s a great day to remember in the history of Manchester City."

Bacary Sagna

"Because of his mentality. Because of the way he is, on and off the pitch. I think he’s a true leader. Every time he played, he showed he deserved to play for us.

"He’s been a brilliant fighter all the way through his City career and I think there’s more to come but all the way through his City career he’s been an example.

"He’s a natural leader. He likes to win, he likes to fight and he likes to do things the right way. I think he’s a true example for kids and young players because he’s had an amazing career. I have so much respect.

"Yeah, of course [we will stay friends]. We might keep in mind the day we had a little argument on the pitch. But honestly he’s a great guy. He was the first one to welcome me to the club; he was the first one to talk to me and propose his help. I will always be thankful for that.

"He’s a top person, top player and top professional."