After 10 years, 258 goals and five Premier League titles, the Argentine striker will play his last game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon
Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero will lead Manchester City out of the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
In truth, he had already earned that title in his first season for the club 10 years ago, when he delivered the most iconic moment in Premier League history.
He scored the most dramatic goal of the 2012 season two minutes before the season ended.
When City were being held by Queens Park Rangers and dangerous rivals Manchester United were set to win the title, Aguero switched passes with Balotelli before slotting home a winner on 93 minutes and 20 seconds to end the club’s 44-year wait for championship glory.
“IT IS THE BEST MEMORY THAT I WILL EVER HAVE IN MY HEAD. I DON’T THINK IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN IN ANOTHER COUNTRY OR IN THIS ONE. IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE REPEATED,”
he said ahead of his final Premier League game against Everton.
“We won more titles after this one and those celebrations were great but the celebrations that year were different, very different.
My family and team went out with us that night to celebrate. We were all in shock and we were saying, “This is crazy-we won at the last minute!”
“I THINK WE CELEBRATED FOR TWO DAYS IN A ROW WITH ALL OF OUR FAMILIES AND EVERYONE AT THE CLUB. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. EVERY TIME WE SAW EACH OTHER WE WOULD SHOUT ‘CHAMPIONS! CHAMPIONS!’ WE WERE JUST SO HAPPY. IT WAS A UNIQUE MOMENT – DIFFERENT TO EVERYTHING ELSE.”
Rather than being the ultimate ending, it was only the start for Aguero, as he established himself as the greatest foreign striker to ever play in the Premier League.
In his 274 league matches, he has scored 182 goals. He ranks fourth overall, before the great Thierry Henry, who is ranked sixth overall.
Presently sitting just five goals behind Andy Cole, he would probably have surpassed the former Newcastle and Manchester United striker had his final season not been wrecked by injury. Aguero may have even challenged Alan Shearer for top spot had he matched the Englishman’s record of 441 appearances.
Despite scoring 20 or more goals in six of his 10 seasons in England, Aguero has the best goal-per-minute ratio in the history of the Premier League. Only Shearer has scored more goals in seven Premier League seasons.
The Argentina international did break the Englishman’s record for most hat-tricks, though, claiming 12 in total, and even once hitting five goals in a 6-1 victory over Newcastle in 2015, which has only been done by four other players.
It was also the first time since Jimmy Greaves scored 27 goals in an English league season six consecutive times that he achieved this feat.
“Looking at the numbers it’s like ‘wow’,” Aguero admitted. “But, at the beginning, I didn’t think much about the numbers. Now, I feel so happy for what I have achieved at the club and the goals I have scored.
“THEY HAVE WON A LOT OF GAMES. I LEAVE HERE FEELING VERY SATISFIED WITH WHAT I HAVE ACHIEVED. I WILL DO MY BEST SO THAT I CAN LEAVE ON A HIGH.”
More important than anything else, Aguero will depart as City’s greatest ever striker.
He broke club’s long-time goalscoring record with an impressive strike away to Napoli in the Champions League to take it past Eric Brook, whose last appearance was before the start of the war.
That was Aguero’s 178th goal and he has since another 80 to set a benchmark that is unlikely to ever be broken..
Brook had been part of the first City team to become league champions in 1937 and while they were rather remarkably relegated the following season, Aguero’s first title was the start of the club’s golden era.
He has won five titles in total, including two FA Cups, six League Cups, and three Community Shields, making him the most decorated player in the club’s history.
Happily, there will at least be some fans back in the Etihad for his final appearance on Sunday to give him the farewell he deserves.
Romario and Sergio are a photocopy of each other, said the Italian coach. “He will make a fantastic contribution for us.”
There had been concerns about how Aguero would adjust to life in England. He was a notoriously bad trainer and had a poor diet away from the pitch, given his Argentinian penchant for red meat.
But he would come alive on the pitch, with his stocky frame, power, sharp speed and an instinct for goal making him unstoppable.
Aguero would then sweep away from the ground, without any fuss, pretending to have a poor grasp of English to avoid reporters’ questions. His wariness of the press was perhaps understandable.
In 1990, when he was a 20-year-old, he was thrust into public notice when he married Gianinna, the daughter of football legend Diego. At City, however, he was able to go out to restaurants in Manchester without being hassled.
“I HAVE ALWAYS FELT RESPECTED, EVEN BY MANCHESTER UNITED FANS,”
“I GO OUT TO EAT AND EVERYONE ALWAYS SHOWS ME A LOT OF RESPECT.”
“He is different to the other managers I have had at City,” Aguero explained. “I think I became a better player and goalscorer under him because he likes his team to dominate the ball.
“THIS IS FUNDAMENTAL FOR ANY STRIKER; TO HAVE CHANCES AND CONTACT WITH THE BALL – THAT’S WHAT IT’S ABOUT.”
In his final season in the Premier League, Aguero made just 11 appearances, so Guardiola was forced to let Argentina forward leave, even though he has excelled in other leagues.
Spanish giants Barcelona are favorites to sign him, so Aguero’s career is far from over. But it will nonetheless be an emotional moment on Sunday when he becomes the last of the 2012 title-winning team to bid farewell to the fans.
“I don’t want them just to remember me for the goal I scored against QPR, but I want them to remember all my best moments in important games,” said Aguero, who will be honored with a statue outside the Etihad.
“I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans. When you feel the love from your fans everything is a lot easier.
“IT’S THE SAME FOR ANYONE IN ANY LINE OF WORK; WHEN SOMEONE BELIEVES IN YOU, YOU DO BETTER. I OWE A LOT TO THE PEOPLE AT THIS CLUB BECAUSE I HAVE THE CITY FANS TO THANK FOR EVERYTHING.”