Vincent Kompany felt he had proved a point to his doubters after his man-of-the-match display in Manchester City’s Carabao Cup final win.
City’s influential captain rolled back the years to produce a vintage performance at Wembley on Sunday, inspiring his side to a convincing 3-0 win over Arsenal.
The Belgian was commanding defensively and a threat going forward, capping a superb all-round showing by scoring City’s crucial second goal early in the second half.
Having endured a succession of injuries in recent seasons, problems which led many to question his future, it was a particularly sweet occasion for Kompany. The 31-year-old refused to accept defeat throughout his numerous lay-offs and he felt his attitude had been vindicated.
“I am fortunate to be at a club with incredible support when it comes to medical staff,” said Kompany. “But a lot of it is just my own doing as well – just absolute stubbornness.
“I almost get an enjoyment out of adversity. However bad it can be I have always been like this. I am the wrong guy to bet against.”
It was not only Kompany’s performance that was reminiscent of many of his dominant displays in City’s Premier League title-winning campaigns of 2012 and 2014.
His goal celebration, after turning home an Ilkay Gundogan shot to double the lead established by Sergio Aguero’s opener, was also similar to one after a vital derby winner against Manchester United six years ago.
Kompany headed the only goal on a tense night at the Etihad Stadium back in April 2012, earning a victory which swung the title race back in City’s favour.
Like then, he showed his elation by running towards City’s fans, pumping both fists and screaming with joy.
“It means to the world to me,” Kompany said. “I don’t plan that – you can see. It’s just pure emotion.
“It is hard to rank it. Scoring a goal against United – it is always going to be difficult to top that – but this one is up there, at Wembley.
“And it was necessary. Having pressure, having chances, if you don’t score the second goal sometimes you can lose the game. That second goal probably gave us the comfort to carry on and build from there.”
Kompany’s strike was followed by a well-worked third from David Silva after 65 minutes and from there City coasted to victory against an underwhelming Arsenal side.
It was a strong response by City, who are also 13 points clear in the Premier League, after their quadruple bid was surprisingly derailed by Wigan in the FA Cup last week.
It also felt like City entered a potentially glorious new era by claiming their first trophy under Pep Guardiola.
Kompany said: “Maybe, for the manager. I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him. For us it is more like a reward for having played so well this season on so many occasions.
“You lose a game against Wigan, you come into this game and you think all of a sudden two games can cost you two trophies, and that wouldn’t have been deserved. This gives you the feeling you can achieve stuff playing how we do.”