Men's Team

Lescott explains how formidable Kompany partnership was formed

Joleon Lescott says he knew Vincent Kompany was destined to become Manchester City’s first choice centre-back, so set himself the target of becoming the Belgian’s best partner.

The defensive duo formed a formidable partnership under Roberto Mancini, with both men playing a key role in City’s 2011 FA Cup triumph and the first Premier League title that followed a year later.


City’s captain fantastic, Kompany became one of the best centre-backs in the world in his 11 years at the Etihad Stadium.

During that time, nobody played more games alongside him at centre-half than Lescott (108), who was happy to take a secondary role to the legendary Belgian.

The former Wolves and Everton had the humility to accept Kompany was going to be Mancini’s first choice and, rather than competing with him, set about making himself the best partner he could be in order to maximise his playing time.

“It was me and Kolo [at centre-back] at the start,” Lescott explains to

“He [Kompany] would get shipped out wide or go in midfield and then I got injured at Fulham away. I pulled my hamstring before that game and Vinnie went to centre-half.

“I was due to start centre-half and he was due to start at right-back and he never came out of the team again as a centre-half.

93:20 | Joleon Lescott extended interview

“I was aware that was going to be the case at some point but also I was aware then and afterwards when other people came, Vinnie was going to play, I needed to be his best partner.

“I didn’t need to be the best defender, I needed to be his best partner because if that was the case, I would play the majority of the games.

“Other defenders came and wanted to be the best defender, which didn’t help them because if things go wrong, Vinnie is staying in the team.

“I knew I don’t want to come out of the team, so I need to be Vinnie’s best partner and complement the bits that he wanted to do – be aggressive and play higher up – and I needed to be his insurance and understand my role in the team.”

Kompany arrived at the Etihad in the summer of 2008 as a fresh faced 20-year-old who had predominantly been used as a defensive midfielder at previous club Hamburg.

With Kolo Toure Mark Hughes’ first choice in the heart of defence, the Belgian was used in a variety of roles in the early stage of his City career, in midfield, at right-back and occasionally at centre-back.

It meant Lescott, who joined 12-months later, was forced to compete with him for a place in the starting line-up, but, crucially that never affected their relationship.

The England Under-21 coach says the pair enjoyed a friendship throughout that period, which he feels allowed them to excel once they both established themselves as the starting centre-backs under Mancini.

“I was aware early of how important and how good he was going to become to the team,” he added.

“When I first come, Kolo was in the team. Kolo was the defender, and it was whoever played with Kolo, with him being the captain.

“It was kind of like me and Vinnie needed to compete with each other for that space.

“We sat next to each other in the dressing room, we were good friends, and it was never a rivalry, which is what helped us when we played together.

“We wanted the team to do well, we were going to contest each other in training but we were never not friends.”