He’s young, doesn’t look like anything special and wears the No. 80, but Phil Foden is England’s next great hope.
At 17, Foden doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet, let alone much of a following outside his mum, but he showed 67,000 fans in Houston on Thursday night what he can do.
In a 2-0 loss to Manchester United, the Manchester City starlet dazzled with his deft touches, clever movements and impressive range of passing for one so young. It was like watching an English Deco, something I never thought I’d say, particularly of a homegrown talent rising through the Manchester City ranks.
Watch as he turns Ander Herrera like he’s not even there.
Phil Foden looks like he'll be a hell of a player. Look how he just glides away from Herrera. He's 17. pic.twitter.com/qmAPRzatz6— Simon Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) July 21, 2017
City coach Pep Guardiola, who has seen his share of young talent having coached at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, heaped praise on the precocious midfielder after the match. Keep in mind, this was Foden’s first ever match with the City first team.
“It’s a long time since I saw something like this,” Guardiola said. “His performance was another level. He’s 17 years old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift.
“I don’t have words — I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw. You are the lucky guys who saw the first game, for the first team for Manchester City, of this guy.”
For 75 minutes, Foden skipped around the United midfield with ease. He attacked with the fearlessness that youth provides and which won’t be extinguished until a few miserable trips to Stoke.
— #KingofLoveTown (@OwiaMusic) July 21, 2017
He had a couple good cracks at goal and set up a few chances as well. He made mince meat out of the Manchester United midfield — featuring Herrera and Paul Pogba — though he didn’t have quite as much success going against the defenders.
When was the last time a player without a Wikipedia page dominated a game like this? Probably before 2001 when the crowd-sourced encyclopedia was first launched. The last time someone wearing the No. 80 lit up a crowd at NRG Stadium in Houston like that it was former Texans receiver Andre Johnson. (Guardiola was just surprised the stadium filled up at all.)
Foden will need to find an appropriate jersey number. No. 80 is fine for wideouts and days to fly around the world, but not a midfielder.
Until then, enjoy these highlights of his first match with Manchester City.