The six stages of Phil Foden’s rise: ‘A gift… on another level’

Quick Reads

It’s easy to forget that Man City sensation Phil Foden is still just 18, given what he’s already achieved in the game.

He’s just hit the latest milestone of his career as he scored the winning goal, his first in the Premier League, as City beat Spurs 1-0. 

Here are six stages of his career so far:

Building a reputation at City

Those that followed City’s youth sides have whispered about a potentially elite-level talent for some time.

Steve Williams, who coached Foden when he was a child at Reddish Vulcans, has given him the highest of praise – and expects him to go to the very top, with a game suited to Guardiola’s style.

“I think he is the natural successor to David Silva, in a year or two,” Williams said, speaking to the MEN after Foden made his debut

“The only problem at first was his size, because he was tiny,”

“When he started, it was the time of Patrick Vieira, and players were real athletes – and you wondered if a lad who might grow to five ft ins would get an opportunity.

“But then Lionel Messi came along and maybe changed that mentality, and Phil is in that style – he would run past entire teams at that age.

“Parents from other teams would come and watch him play from adjacent pitches.”

Close to glory at youth level

In May 2017, England’s new golden generation announced themselves as special, with Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi starring alongside Foden at the Under-17s Euros. 

Sancho was named player of the tournament, while Foden and Hudson-Odoi scored in the final against Spain, but England went on to lose on penalties after the match finished 2-2.

Two years later, Hudson-Odoi and Sancho have already made an impact for Gareth Southgate’s senior side, and Foden will surely follow soon.

A rave review from Pep Guardiola

“I don’t have words. I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw,” said Guardiola, after Foden was given a debut, against Manchester United, in a pre-season tour in the summer of 2017.

“You are lucky guys, believe me, you are the guys who saw his first game in the first team at Manchester City,” he told the reporters that day.

“I’ve not seen something like I saw today for a long time. His performance was another level. He’s a City fan and loves the club. He’s a gift for us. He’s special…he played against (Paul) Pogba, (Ander) Herrera and after that (Michael) Carrick.”

Winning the Under-17s World Cup

Five months on from the shootout disappointment against Spain, England’s young stars went one better, avenging Spain in Spain to come out on top in the final and lift the World Cup.

Foden picked up the Golden Ball award for best player and scored a brace in the final as England came from two goals behind to thrash Spain 5-2.

Doing well in the cups

Foden’s mostly had to take his opportunities in the domestic cups this season, with twice as many starts in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup than the Premier League combined.

But he’s done all that could be expected of him, contributing goals in City’s 7-0 and 9-0 thrashings of Rotherham and Burton, also registering a brace as they won 4-1 away in Newport.

First Premier League goal

In spite of all the hype, Foden has struggled for regular chances at Man City, especially in the Premier League.

So it was quite an opportunity when he was selected to start against Tottenham, in a crucial game of the run-in as City chase down the title. Just his second Premier League start of the season, against a fellow top six side, with the first coming against

But he stepped up, making a good run into the six-yard box to nod in Sergio Aguero’s header across. It went on to be the decisive goal in a massive 1-0 win. The biggest moment of his career so far and a sign of things to come.


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