Revealed: Why Ilkay Gundogan was nicknamed ‘Zidane’ in Man City training

Ilkay Gundogan Zinedine ZidaneGetty/GOAL
  • German star spent seven years in Manchester
  • Is taking his talents to Barcelona
  • Will be fondly remembered at the Etihad

WHAT HAPPENED? The classy German midfielder is bidding farewell to the Etihad Stadium after seven memorable years, with a new challenge set to be taken on with La Liga giants Barcelona. Gundogan’s final season in England saw him lift Premier League, FA Cup and Champions trophies as City skipper – within a historic Treble triumph – and he will rightly go down as a modern day legend in Manchester. He will be fondly remembered by those he played alongside, with the humble 32-year-old getting a playful training ground moniker from those that rarely saw him break a sweat.

WHAT THEY SAID: Gundogan has told The Players’ Tribune: “I am usually a pretty reserved person. It takes a while to get me to open up. But the great thing about this team is that we all just felt comfortable making jokes with one another no matter how much pressure we were under. We’d be playing 5-v-2 in the box in training, and my favourite thing was to joke around with Ruben Dias. I guess because I am usually such a simple player, the guys thought it was really funny to call me ‘Zidane’ when I showed a bit of technique. Whenever I had a good session, Ruben would go around calling me ‘Zidane’. And I’d say, ‘No, no, today I was Pirlo. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to Zizou’.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Gundogan mixes the composure of Italian icon Andrea Pirlo with the technical ability of French World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane and will be a big miss in City’s engine room – despite the abundance of options that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal.

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Ilkay Gundogan Man City GFXGetty/GOAL

Zidane WCGetty Images

WHAT NEXT? Gundogan leaves City having taken in 304 appearances for the club, with a useful knack for popping up in the final third added to his game across the last three seasons – with 38 goals recorded in that time.

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