London (AFP) – Vincent Kompany announced Sunday that he will leave Manchester City after 11 trophy-laden years to become player-manager of Anderlecht.
Belgian defender Kompany joined City in 2008 and made 360 appearances, winning four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and two Community Shields.
The 33-year-old signed off with victory in the FA Cup final on Saturday, where the club captain lifted the trophy after City thrashed Watford 6-0 to complete a domestic treble.
“As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go. And what a season to bow out,” Kompany said.
“I feel nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club.”
Anderlecht is the Belgian club where Kompany began his professional career before joining Hamburg and he admitted he is relishing the chance to move into management.
“I choose to be grateful for the past but remain ambitious and driven for the future. For the next three years, I will take up the role of player-manager of Anderlecht. Belgium’s finest,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This may come as a surprise to you. It’s the most passionate yet rational decision I’ve ever made.”
Kompany was in tears after scoring a dramatic long-range winner in City’s final home game of the season against Leicester on May 6, a result that moved them to the brink of the Premier League title.
Speaking at the time, he hinted his emotional response might have been triggered by a potential departure.
But he waited until the season was over before finally confirming the end of his glorious spell at City.
“I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up,” Kompany said.
“(Club owner) Sheikh Mansour changed my life and that of all the City fans around the world, for that I am forever grateful. A blue nation has arisen and challenged the established order of things, I find that awesome.”
Kompany has been ravaged by injuries in recent years and he featured in only 17 of City’s 38 league games this season because of muscle problems.
– City icon –
However, he will be remembered for his influence on and off the pitch, a contribution that established him as the heartbeat of City’s greatest era.