One man dominates the Monday morning news agenda with Vincent Kompany’s decision to call time on his extraordinary 11-year Manchester City career prompting an avalanche of praise and admiration throughout the media.
Just over 12 hours after helping City create English football history with our 6-0 FA Cup final win over Watford, the captain revealed that he was leaving to take up a new challenge as player-manager of Anderlecht in his native Belgium.
In the wake of the news, tributes to Kompany’s influence and impact poured in from his City team-mates and football alumni and that admiration is mirrored in this morning's press round-up.
The Manchester Evening News’s chief City correspondent Stuart Brennan, who covered the majority of Kompany’s glittering career at the Club, penned a glowing tribute to the Etihad icon.
And for Brennan, Kompany’s impact and qualities off the field as well on it are the true hallmark of the man.
Brennan scribed: “Words are not necessary to convey what Vincent Kompany means to Manchester City fans.
“The song says it all. They love him more than he will know, and with good reason.
“Bought before the takeover for a bargain £6million, not only did he survive the astonishing revamp of the club that followed, but he thrived on it, he fed it, and he led it.
“Ten years down the line, at the age of 33, he has again found the spirit to conquer the fragility of his own sinews and contain the advance of years to ensure that the Blues won an epic Premier League title race, and then added the FA Cup.
“But the true greatness of Kompany is that, for all his outstanding qualities on the field of play – the rock-hard defender, the inspirational leader, the tackler and header of every ball that dared to come near, the consummate passer, the shrewd tactician and the scorer of astounding, match-winning, title-deciding goals – his football qualities only tell half of the story.
“Here is a man, born in Belgium, half Congolese, who came to Manchester as a young man.
“Not only did he embrace the city, he has become a symbol of all that is great about it, compassionate, spirited, blunt and ballsy.
“He is a true Mancunian, and there can be no greater praise from fellow denizens of this wonderful, battle-scarred place.”
There are similar glowing sentiments from the BBC’s chief football writer Phil McNulty who says Vinnie’s place in the pantheon of truly legendary Premier League figures is assured.
McNulty writes: “Kompany will be remembered as one of the greatest and most enduring figures of the Premier League era after winning four titles, four League Cups and two FA Cups since joining City from Hamburg in August 2008.
“He can also take his place among the great leaders of the Premier League era, a statesmanlike and inspirational figure off the pitch and the man coach Pep Guardiola still turned to in the closing days of his City career.
“When City could not afford to blink in the title race with Liverpool, when they effectively needed a 14-game winning sequence to see off Jurgen Klopp's side, Guardiola put Kompany at the heart of his defence and relied on his experience, quality and know-how to guide them over the winning line.
“And so it proved, especially when he provided one of the great City moments with his unlikely - and, not to be too unkind, uncharacteristic - 25-yard thunderbolt that flew high past Kasper Schmeichel to give them the 1-0 win against Leicester City that set the platform for a glorious finale at Brighton.
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“Kompany was no stranger to those decisive moments in unfamiliar territory, scoring the vital winner against Manchester United in April 2012 that allowed City to take control of the title race with two games left, then scoring the second goal that provided the cushion against West Ham when victory was required to see off Liverpool once more on the final day of the 2013-14 season.
“The Belgian, however, means so much more.
“Kompany straddled City's great transition from the early days of the Abu Dhabi revolution, signed by Mark Hughes then subsequently a trusted general on the field and off for Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and latterly Guardiola.
“No matter how much the scenery changed, Kompany was a constant, consistent presence.
“He has also been a spokesman for wider issues, such as racism, and all the proceeds from his testimonial in September will be donated to Manchester's homeless, an individual who recognises his influence and voice can stretch beyond football, who sees the bigger picture and context away from the game.
“He is guaranteed his place in City's hall of fame and, indeed, the Premier League's.”
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate was another to hail the remarkable impact of the Belgian central defender, whom he described as City’s rock.
Bate opines: “He leaves English football as a true Premier League legend.
“There was no self-indulgent farewell tour. Certainly no documentary to announce the decision. Not for him the spectacle of being chaired from the field for a drawn out substitution.
“He wasn't even the man to make way for John Stones late on in the FA Cup final win over Watford. David Silva was afforded that standing ovation.
“Vincent Kompany settled for the trophy. Another trophy. The man who captained Manchester City to this historic domestic treble.
“In a game where it is now customary for ex-pros to bemoan that leadership is a lost trait, nobody could level that accusation at the Belgian. He was City's rock. The one who set the tone. The one who set the standards.
“He was also the link to an earlier era. One in which to be a Manchester City player had very different connotations to now. He arrived from Hamburg in the summer of 2008 when City's last result of the previous season had been an 8-1 defeat to Middlesbrough. Even Afonso Alves scored a hat-trick.
“Kompany not only survived the transition of City into a modern super-club, he led the change. Few would dispute that he has been the Premier League's outstanding centre-back of the decade.
“He was certainly its most successful.
"I don't care about my CV," he has said but it is a mighty one. Four Premier League titles under three different managers, the club's player of the year in the first of them. Four League Cups. Two FA Cups eight years apart.
“It is a list that puts him among the first rank of City's heroes. Club legend Tony Book had the honour of bringing out the FA Cup on Saturday, and was heralded with a banner, but Kompany is now the face of City's greatest era.”
The warm words also flow in the Daily Mail from Chris Wheeler who says the timing and manner of Vinnie’s decision to seek a new challenge away from City also spoke volumes about the man.
Wheeler reports: “It says everything about Vincent Kompany that having declared Manchester City ‘the best team in the world’ in the aftermath of their FA Cup win at Wembley, he was prepared to walk away from the club.
“Most players would be tempted to ride the gravy train for another season, to keep playing for this magnificent team and pick up the trophies that will almost certainly come City’s way over the next 12 months. Not Kompany.
“He has always followed his own path and did so again on Sunday morning by announcing that he is leaving the Etihad after 11 years to take over as player-manager of his old team Anderlecht.
“Kompany goes out at the top after becoming the first captain in English football to win the domestic treble. Throw in the Community Shield and it’s four trophies this season and 12 in total during his stellar career at the club.
“He will go down in history at City. A leader and a legend who did arguably more than any other to turn the Abu Dhabi dream into reality.
“His last home game will also go down in City folklore after Kompany’s 30-yard blockbuster clinched victory over Leicester and, in effect, another title. The tears that flowed afterwards suggested it might be his farewell.
“‘Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?’ screamed Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville that night. Fans have already started an online petition.
“City hope he will return to the club one day and Kompany feels it will happen.