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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Ilkay Gundogan happy to repay Pep Guardiola's trust after injury-disrupted start at Manchester City

The Germany international reveals how he celebrated the Premier League title and why City need to work hard for more success

Ilkay Gundogan was Pep Guardiola's first signing as Manchester City manager, but his first season was marred by injury. Getty
Ilkay Gundogan was Pep Guardiola's first signing as Manchester City manager, but his first season was marred by injury. Getty

On hearing the news

“I didn’t get to watch the United game [against West Bromwich Albion]. We had been given a few days off by the manager and so I travelled over to Germany to watch the Schalke v Dortmund game.

"I was still in the stadium with my cousin and uncle enjoying dinner after the game when news came through. Schalke v Dortmund is obviously a pretty big deal in Germany and the most important derby in the Bundesliga, so it was great to be there.

"I’d made my plans as soon as I realised that it wouldn’t interfere with our own matches, but it’s fair to say I didn’t expect the hear the news that United had lost.”

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On celebrations that evening

“I spent a really nice evening with my family and friends at home. It was a great moment for me – my first Premier League title. I’m obviously very happy. We have worked so hard for this and to win the title means so much to all of us having spent the season performing well.

"There were no big parties for me, though. Everyone was getting in touch to congratulate each other in our team WhatsApp group. None of us really expect it to happen [on Sunday], but it was great that it did and I know the whole team have been celebrating.”

On the squad being young

“Although some of our players have won it before, it’s our first title as a group of players under the new manager. That step is always a difficult one, but we have worked hard all season and we are delighted to achieve it. We have developed together and there is a lot of potential. What we all have to do now is to work hard and believe in our ability to keep succeeding.”

On Guardiola replicating previous success

“I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m really grateful to be able to work with him. But the competition in the Premier League is much harder than in Germany. We have five or six teams who are all able to win the league and that makes it incredibly difficult. But we are ambitious and we aim to win every game.

"If we continue with this mentality then there’s no reason we can’t continue in this way. We [he and Guardiola] share our idea of the game. After my comeback, he gradually gave me more and more time on the pitch, getting me closer and closer to my best possible performance.

"He has put much trust in me and I am happy I was able to pay some of it back during this season. He was a great player himself, he has been in our shoes. He always asks for 100 per cent, in every training session, every match.”

Competition for players

“It’s really exciting to train amongst such good players. To compete with them means to push myself to new limits in every session. I think it is a great benefit for all of us. And with the long season and all the different competitions everyone has played their part.”