Phil Foden may be a new name on many lips but, in one corner of Stockport at least, Manchester City’s teenage star has been turning heads for over a decade.
The 18-year-old revelled on the big stage on Sunday with an impressive display in the Premier League champions’ victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.
This demonstration of potential will not have come as a surprise those who marvelled at his starring role in England’s success at the Under-17 World Cup last autumn. Indeed, the playmaker has been tipped for big things since he first appeared on the first-team substitute’s bench at City in December 2016.
But for those in his home town, and particularly those involved with his local junior club Reddish Vulcans, the breakthrough has been anticipated for quite some time.
“I have known him since he was seven,” Joe Mackin, who is a scout with City but has also been working as a volunteer coach with the Vulcans for almost 25 years, told Football Paradise. “He was an exceptional talent, even at such a young age.
“The thing that will always stick with me, was when he was playing in a junior game for the Vulcans and we were stood on the touchline. The parents were stood a couple of yards behind us.
“He got the ball, went round a couple of players and slotted one into the net. One of the opponents’ parents turned round to the guy stood next to him and said, ‘You’d pay to watch this wouldn’t you?’.
“He was just a phenomenal talent. He was just born with it. He’s not the biggest or the strongest but his balance and perception, and the fact he is such a lovely, rounded boy, quite shy, will go a long way to help him.”
Mackie is not just wise after the event. A dip into the news archive on the Vulcans website reveals an article he wrote 10 years ago, urging people to “remember the name” because Foden has “balance and a left foot like you can’t believe”.
Foden, whose touch and control has earned him the nickname of the ‘Stockport Iniesta’, has come through the junior ranks at City and is the next bright hope to graduate from their much-trumpeted £200million Academy. He made his first-team debut as a substitute at Feyenoord in the Champions League last October and made five appearances in the victorious Premier League campaign.
He now looks ready to step up to the next level but Mackin, who has seen Foden’s development at first hand through his roles at City and Reddish, hopes people do not expect too much too soon.
He said: “Phil is proving if you are good enough you will get in but he’s only just 18. Give him a bit of time and a bit of room and I am sure he will come to fruition.”
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