Men's Team

Zabaleta on unsung hero Barry and the spirit of City's 93:20 squad

Pablo Zabaleta has highlighted the crucial role played by Gareth Barry in City’s fondly remembered FA Cup and title-winning squad from 2011 and 2012.

Earlier this month, City celebrated the 10th anniversary of our iconic 93:20 maiden Premier League title triumph of 2012, with Barry and Zabaleta both part of the reunion celebrations.

Former England midfielder Barry holds the distinction of having made more Premier League appearances than any other player and, over the course of four seasons at the Club between 2009 and 2013, he established himself as a key figure in our success.

He helped us end our 35-year wait for silverware by lifting the 2011 FA Cup and then played a major role in City’s unforgettable 2011-12 Premier League success.

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And, according to Barry's former Etihad team-mate Zabaleta, the England midfielder was one of the real unsung heroes of Roberto Mancini’s City squad, with his consistency and professionalism epitomising the standards that drove the side to success.

“Gareth was Mr Consistent! He was great and was one of the best players for us in that time,” Zabaleta recalled.

“I never saw him miss a training session. I never saw him injured or having treatment - only the recovery sessions.

“In the game he covered every single inch of the field.

“He was not the fastest, but his positioning was always good. His left foot was perfect, he was good in the air, and good in tackles.

“Gareth deserves a lot of credit. He was so, so professional.

“He’s the player with the most Premier League games and it tells you why because he never missed training. He was great.

“He went into every tackle 100%, winning duels, played every single game. You always need these kinds of players to bring consistency to the team.

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“Roberto Mancini was also clever to find who was the right player for the right game.

“I love Gareth Barry!”

Reflecting back on that special era in our history, Zabaleta also pointed to the bond and team spirit forged amongst the squad as being an equally defining factor in our success.

“We were a group of players that we needed to take the club to another level. It was a big responsibility for everyone,” the former Argentine full-back reflected.

“At that time, we knew we had big names, but it was a different time for the club.

“Don’t forget the old Carrington training ground. People forget how small Carrington was. The old gym, the old canteen, the physio room.

“It was a moment for the club to change things, but it wasn’t that easy.

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“We became a better team. We have seen that transformation from the club.

“We needed to beat teams like Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Liverpool - they were the teams dominating English football at the time.

“At the end of the day, we did it.

“The fans have that recognition from that group of players that we were those that were there from the beginning to help get the club to where we are these days.”

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