Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan says winning the 2022/23 Premier League title feels extra special because of having to come from behind to be crowned champions.
The German was Pep Guardiola’s first signing at Man City seven years ago and, although it was his fifth title with City, it was the first time Gundogan had lifted the Premier League Trophy as captain.
“It's amazing, as you can imagine, for me the first time,” he said. “I have won five [times] but lifting it yourself [for the first time] is something extra special.”
He also said that having trailed in the table to Arsenal for so long during the season makes this season’s title different from past successes.
“Today is special, it feels more special than previous years,” he said. “Because of the atmosphere in the training ground, we’re here for each other, we fight for each other in tough periods.”
Gundogan rejected the notion he thought the title would not come to the Etihad Stadium, referring back to the previous season where his two goals on the final day rescued a turnaround win against Aston Villa that secured the 2021/22 title.
“No, we all know that the season is so long and there is so much to play for until the end, the final day we had last season,” he said.
“Obviously, we have a very experienced team and even though the gap was maybe eight points and one game in hand we always knew that we had to stay calm.
“We have to do the things we do best and step-by-step we know we would be able to close the gap.”
Forest draw sparked revival
As to when the turning point in the season was, Gundogan pointed to the 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, when City let in a late equaliser.
“Maybe something happened after the Forest game away,” he said. “We were in full control and conceded after the 85th minute and lost two points.
“Maybe something changed that day. That shows how competitive the league is. The Premier League is the best league in the world. To win it three in a row, it’s unbelievable.”
When asked whether he thought he would be as successful as he has become over the last seven years Gundogan said: “Thinking about it, I guess no.
“It shows how happy I am here, but it also shows how demanding that type of play is. You need to adapt every single season, there's something new in terms of tactics, in terms of competition on and off the field, so it's demanding, it’s very competitive and as someone who loves the game you love the competition as well. So that's a big part of the reason why I'm here in my seventh year.”
'My football is simple'
That demand for change meant Gundogan has thrived in the City midfield over his seven years, despite the different tactical demands.
“It’s adaptation,” he said. “The holding position requires different things to the offensive roles. This is what Pep appreciates about me.
“I’m not special in times of giving decisive goals and assists, my qualities are in terms of bringing my team-mates in the best possible situations.
“Leading them to these kind of simple situations. My football is simple, I try to make it as simple.”
With City in the FA Cup final in 3 June and the UEFA Champions League final seven days later, Gundogan has the chance to lead the club to an historic treble.
“Two more finals to go, we’re looking forward to it," he said. "My arms are ready to lift two more titles!”
Also in this series
Part 1: Man City are 2022/23 champions after Arsenal defeat
Part 2: Why Man City can become the greatest champions of all
Part 3: Man City lift Premier League Trophy after beating Chelsea
Part 4: In pictures: Man City's title celebrations
Part 5: Haaland: Thirty-six goals and a PL Trophy, not a bad start
Part 7: Guardiola: Team deserve celebration after my demands
Part 8: How Guardiola's tactics have evolved during his reign at City
Part 9: The matches that defined Man City's title triumph