Mens Team

Kevin Horlock: City is in my blood

Kevin Horlock, by his own admission, didn’t understand what he was signing up for when he put pen to paper with Manchester City in January 1997.

The Club hadn’t been at the forefront of his mind when his form for Swindon Town had a host of managers circling to prize him away from the County Ground.

Fortunately for City, the Robins were managed by former midfielder Steve McMahon, who gave Horlock a gentle nudge in the direction of Maine Road.

He would go on to make more than 200 appearances in six-and-a-half happy years, falling in love with a Club he found so infectious, which is why he remains indebted to McMahon for his sage advice.

“When I joined City, I was having a good time at Swindon and a few clubs were interested,” he recalls.

“It was Steve McMahon that said go and speak to City. I was like Manchester City? I ended up taking his advice and I’ve been thankful to him ever since.

“I didn’t understand the size of this football club. I didn’t understand the fan base, the passion and, until you’ve played for this Club, it’s difficult to describe.

“It gets in your blood. You hear a lot of players talk about it and I’m no different.

“I’m a City fan. It’s a part of me and that’s due to the people. Not just the people who work here, it’s the fans. It’s difficult to describe…”

Horlock enjoyed somewhat of a rollercoaster ride in sky blue.

An integral part of our promotion triumphs of 1999, 2000 and 2002, he twice suffered relegation, the first of which proved to be the Club’s lowest ebb as we dropped into the third tier for the first time in our history.

But it was then that the fan in Horlock came to the fore.

He was determined to right the wrong of the previous season and admits he remains stunned when asked whether he considered leaving in the summer of 1998.

“People said City were too big to go down based on fan base,” he explains. “I agree, but in terms of the football side of it, we weren’t good enough to stay up.

“People asked me over the years did I not think about leaving.

“I was gobsmacked that they even asked that question. I didn’t contemplate that for one moment.

“I’d been part of the squad and the team that had put this Club in that position, and I was going to stay around and get us back to where we should have been.”

Twenty-one goals in 89 games over the following two seasons did just that, as Horlock helped Joe Royle steer City back to the promise land of the Premier League.

It’s one of many reasons why he is held in such high regard by supporters, who reciprocate the affection the man himself has for the Club.

Blessed with a cultured left foot, Horlock was always someone supporters could count on, though he provides a particularly frank assessment of why he proved so popular.

“I’m not going to sit here and kid myself it was because of my unbelievable skill,” he adds.

“I know what I am. I had no right foot or pace, but I had a half decent left foot and I would give everything.

“And maybe that struck a chord with the City fans. When I had that shirt on, I’d like to think I played like I was a fan.”

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