Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Vincent Kompany ruled out of own testimonial match but gets statue as consolation

Former Manchester City captain's testimonial featured Premier League stars, including a host of former teammates

Former Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany was ruled out of his own testimonial with a hamstring injury on Wednesday, but he received some consolation after the club said it would commission a statue in his honour.

A City Legends team relied on an equaliser from Benjani who, despite only having scored seven goals for the club, helped his team to a 2-2 draw with a Premier League All Stars side.

But none of it really mattered in the celebration of a career. There were other goals to be scored at Kompany’s testimonial.

The crowd of 51,602 helped to raise a sizeable sum for Tackle4MCR, the initiative set up by Kompany and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to tackle homelessness in the city.

Kompany, who delivered a team talk in the dressing room, led his three children on to the pitch before the match where he was greeted by the greats of City’s previous golden generation in Tony Book, Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee.

Other members of his family featured in the day’s events.

Francois, brother of Vincent Kompany, appeared in the Manchester City defence. And before kick-off, Pierre Kompany, Vincent’s father, walked out with Thierry Henry, another player denied a starring role by injury.

The match was a chance to welcome back City’s greatest captain but Kompany had already had his fairytale farewell, winning trophies in his two final City appearances.

A fan held a banner reading: “Don’t shoot, Vinny! No!”

Those were Sergio Aguero’s words when, in his last game at Etihad, Kompany ignored City’s record scorer and decided to let fly. His superb winner against Leicester allowed them to become champions.

City’s tribute for 11 years of stalwart service occurred on and off the pitch.

They have named a road on the Etihad campus Vincent Kompany Crescent and are commissioning a sculpture commemorating their former captain.

On a night when a sprinkling of Kompany’s Anderlecht charges featured, old teammates abounded.

It is a sign of Kompany’s stature that some played three days before Premier League fixtures, although David Silva’s outing only lasted 21 minutes and Aguero’s 27.

The Premier League All Stars’ sizeable contingent of former Manchester United players resisted the temptation to cause injury, although Nicky Butt did chop down Craig Bellamy.

Bellamy, inevitably, showed hints of his old aggression on the night for City to be nostalgic.

They could savour Pablo Zabaleta snapping into tackles. There were enough touches of class from Samir Nasri to induce regret that he has not made more of his considerable talent.

There was the rare sight, too, of Joe Hart making a save, denying Robin van Persie twice.

The Dutchman, though, was outstanding, a man who only retired a few months ago looking to have retained quality and fitness.

He scored his side’s second goal with a trademark whipped left-footed shot.

There were other moments of timeless class from Old Trafford old boys, including a wonderfully impudent flick of a pass from Paul Scholes.

Martin Petrov scored with a trademark rasping shot in the first minute with punditry sparring partners Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher failing.

Robbie Keane swept in an equaliser after a lovely first-time pass from Van Persie.

There was a suspicion of offside and Thierry Henry mischievously made the signal for the VAR review. Technology rarely plays a factor in testimonials.

Former City goalkeeper Shay Given played against the City Legends and twice denied Petrov an equaliser before Benjani, a forward still remembered for scoring in a Manchester derby, headed in Nigel de Jong’s free kick.

The match ended with even honours … but it was never about the scoreline.

Updated: September 12, 2019 01:05 PM

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