Pep Guardiola confessed that he didn’t think Manchester City captain David Silva had it in him to become a success story in English football.
Nine years since his €28m arrival from Valencia, Silva will reach a new landmark during Sunday’s trip to Bournemouth by making his 400th City appearance. The last player to reach this milestone was Paul Power in the 1985/86 season.
It’s a fitting tribute to the 33-year-old’s incredible longevity at the Etihad Stadium. He’s been a central part in City’s historic era after helping the club win four Premier League titles, four Carabao Cups and two FA Cups.
Yet, it turns out that Silva’s own coach Guardiola didn’t think he had the required attributes to succeed in England.
“He’s a technical player – not a box to box and my image of English football back in 2010, I admit I thought he was going to suffer,” said City boss Guardiola on the club’s website.
“I was happily wrong. That was my first impression. He played well from the beginning and he’s done it consistently ever since, for Roberto [Mancini], Manuel [Pellegrini] and me.
“His qualities – surviving the Premier League is not easy for that length of time, but he did it. He should be so proud of what he’s done.
“He has quality with the ball, but he has so much more than that. He’s a winner. Four Premier League, plus a lot of domestic prizes.
“He’s the same generation as Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and has helped this club to be in a better position.
“Moreover, he’s a nice guy who is our captain. The players chose him. I’m not involved. They had to choose a captain to represent the whole team – it was their decision.”
Guardiola added: “I admire a lot what he has done.
“What I admire the most is to play 400 games – almost 10 seasons here, doing what he has done, it is incredible.”
Silva has clocked up an impressive haul of 71 goals and 130 assists in his 399 appearances for City.
The Premier League champions’ clash with Bournemouth on Sunday will start at 15:00 (CET).