Men's Team

Pot three to Porto: Lescott on City's collective Champions League journey

Joleon Lescott says City’s appearance in our first-ever Champions League final represents the fitting culmination of a decade’s hard work on the European stage by everyone who has represented the Club in that time.

Lescott, who served the Club with huge distinction between 2009 and 2014, was part of the City squad which qualified and then took part in our first Champions League campaign back in 2011.

And he says the subsequent role played by all the players who have represented the Club in that subsequent decade – together with the vital input of managers Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and, of course, latterly Pep Guardiola has combined to huge effect.

Ahead of Saturday’s showpiece in Porto against Chelsea, Lescott also believes City’s journey from being pot three draw outsiders to Champions League final contenders speaks volumes as to the remarkable journey and evolution the Club has undertaken in those 10 years.

“It’s massive, I think it is different because these players and the manager could get it over the line, but we have all played a part,” the former City and England central defender asserted.

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“When we first joined the Champions League, we were in pot three and were the team everyone wanted due to our inexperience and lack of experience (in the competition).

“And now to being the team no-one wants to face and consistently being one of, if not the Champions League favourites is a remarkable shift.

“The fact the club have qualified for the Champions League for 10 successive years and have not finished below second bar one season in that time is remarkable.

“Credit goes to everyone, past and present and everyone involved.

“Again, it isn’t easy to do, the fact we are the only team doing that in such a competitive league.

“There are other teams who do it in their respected leagues but they are often only one of two that can win their league title.

“But the fact City do that, and dominate domestically is a massive achievement.”

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As part of that journey to a first Champions League final there have been a number of disappointments along the way, with City having lost out in the 2016 semi-final along with three successive last eight ties.

However, Lescott also believes those lessons have only served to arm the Club with greater hunger and motivation to prosper on the biggest stage of all.

“Yes, it’s the case in any scenario. You learn from past experiences good and bad,” Lescott continued.

“If they are bad, you try to use that as motivation to get to the next step and I think that’s what the club have done.

“Getting constantly better in the competition. You look at the group stage now and you know we are going to qualify comfortably because of the level the Club has hit.

“I think any success is satisfying. I don’t think you can be choosy when you can have success, I think you just take it when it comes.

“Pep has spoken about it a number of times.

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“There is an element of luck involved, you can’t pick and choose when you win the Champions League. If you win it then great, but if not you always move onto the next one.”

Saturday’s Champions League showpiece also marks the final appearance in a City shirt of Sergio Aguero who will leave the Club this summer after a decade of incredible service.

The Argentine was afforded a rapturous and emotional Etihad farewell last weekend, coming off the bench to score twice in our 5-0 Premier League win over Everton in the final Premier League game of the season.

Asked whether a Champions League triumph would represent the perfect send-off for the Club’s record goal-scorer, and a player he deems ‘irreplaceable’, Lescott asserted: “100%.

“I am gutted it wasn’t last year for David Silva but if one of the old guard could win the first Champions League trophy for the club I would love it to happen.

“There are a lot of people who have laid the foundations for this, and if Kun is able to land this in his last game and lift the trophy it would be a massive achievement.

“(I think Sergio is) The greatest. I think he is the hardest to replace. I know we now play with a false nine but for what he has done in the time he has done, I don’t think will be emulated.

“I don’t care what anyone else does I don’t think it can be bigger than him and what he has done.

“To score that goal (93:20) and consistently score goals in big moments… there won’t be a replacement for Sergio.”

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