As Sergio Agüero’s decade-long association with Manchester City nears its emotional end, the message ahead of today’s Final is a simple one. Watch it, drink it in.
For a player who has achieved so much, Sergio Agüero has never sought the limelight. Humble and unassuming, he’s a legend in the sky blue of Manchester City, and has yet more silverware in his sights before saying what has become an unimaginable goodbye…
In Argentina, to do something “de cayetano” is to do so quietly, or with a low profile. It’s a phrase which aptly sums up Agüero’s trophy-laden career. Despite his successes – of which there are many – he’s never been one to blow his own trumpet.
His is a story defined by dedication and sacrifice, readiness and records, and a natural ability which has been evident since his early years on the ‘potreros’ – or makeshift football pitches – of his home country.
It was in the city of Florencio Varela where his love for football began, and where his famous nickname, ‘Kun’, was bestowed upon him as a youngster. Agüero’s father, Leonel – from whom he takes his middle name - had saved enough money for a small television, and young Sergio quickly took a liking to a Japanese cartoon named ‘Wanpaku Omukashi Kumu Kumu’. As the story goes, Agüero bore a resemblance to the main character, ‘Kum-Kum’, and despite contrasting reports around who coined the moniker, the rest is history.
The nickname would stick, as would the ball to his growing feet, as he began watching his father play and attempted to emulate him. It seemed written in the stars that their next family home should feature a potrero quite literally on its doorstep, with the corner flag almost within touching distance. Agüero would play for fun, and then pesos, as his burgeoning talent shone through, and he soon made a name for himself during nationwide youth tournaments, often against older players. Suddenly, everyone had heard of ‘Kun’.
Sergio’s regular weekend matches had seen his father take the decision to cut his own playing career short and, when one of the country’s biggest Clubs, Independiente, inevitably became aware of the youngster’s abilities and came calling, his route to stardom had officially begun.
To fast forward through Agüero’s subsequent achievements would be doing the striker a disservice, but such is the volume of his feats that it would be difficult to detail them all. After becoming the youngest-ever debutant in Argentina’s top-flight at the age of just 15, and later the youngest to participate in the Copa Libertadores, he would win the Under-20 World Cup with La Albiceleste, going from strength to strength and naturally drawing interest from further afield.
A record transfer to Atletico Madrid brought yet more success over a five-year period, and truly thrust the forward into the international spotlight. Glory in the UEFA Europa League and Super Cup were his first major club honours and owed much to his individual brilliance, as he provided a total of three assists and one goal across the two finals. Fulham had fallen victim to Agüero’s talents in the Europa League Final, with English football’s defences handed an early warning sign of things to come.
The 2010/11 season was arguably Agüero's most successful in Spain, as he scored 20 league goals for the first time in his career, including a hat-trick in what would prove to be his final game for Atleti. With summer had come a new challenge in a new country, one which few could have envisioned becoming quite so iconic.
His City debut said it all. After coming on as a substitute in the 59th minute of a home fixture against Swansea City, it took him just nine minutes to open his account, but the best was yet to come. Agüero then turned provider, producing a fine piece of skill for David Silva to score, before rounding off his first appearance by scoring again in injury time, this time from all of 30 yards. Welcome to Manchester, indeed.
What followed that season was a series of moments so special that just a mention of the numbers associated with them elicits all kinds of memories. Numbers like 1-6 and 93:20.
Had Agüero left City after his debut season, having secured a first title in 44 years and, somewhat unsurprisingly, their Player of the Season award, he’d already have done something many could only dream of. The title triumph was the first of four to date during the striker’s time at the club, with his goals helping City to further domestic glory in 2013/14, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
In his pomp, Agüero recorded six consecutive seasons of 28 or more goals in all competitions, something that hadn’t been done on these shores since the days of Jimmy Greaves. Not only is he City’s all-time top scorer, but he’s also the Premier League’s most prolific non-Englishman, and holds the record for hat-tricks scored in the division with 12. The numbers are almost incomprehensible.
Having also scored on his competition debut, as well as in two Finals and from the spot in two Wembley shoot-outs, Agüero made history in the League Cup long before his club’s place in today’s Final had been confirmed. Another goal this afternoon would see the boy from Buenos Aires become the joint-most successful player in its 61-year history, alongside team-mate Fernandinho.
When all is said and done, and regardless of today’s result, he can look back fondly on what he’s achieved, not only in Manchester and here at Wembley, but across the world and throughout his glittering career. Just don’t expect him to shout about it.
“To train and play with this guy day in, day out has been fantastic. A true City legend.” – Phil Foden
“I can say ‘I was there when he made his debut for Independiente’ and that’s special for me.” – Pablo Zabaleta
“He’s a fantastic person – very natural and humble. He’s always in a good mood.” – Lionel Messi
“You have given football fans in this country so much to remember. Well played and good wishes for whatever comes next.” – Gary Lineker
“Simply the best.” – Paul Dickov
“On and off the pitch, always a class act. I wish you nothing but the very best for the future.” – Aymeric Laporte