At the tender age of 21, Manchester City star Phil Foden is already somewhat of a silverware specialist.
Foden and City have eyes on the quadruple this season and the Carabao Cup is a key component to the Premier League heavyweights’ trophy cabinet.
The holders’ quest to retain the Cup begins tomorrow evening, when City host Sky Bet League One opposition Wycombe Wanderers in Round Three of the competition, and Foden is up for the challenge.
“Every trophy is important,” he told the EFL. “We’re professional footballers and we want to win everything we can. We start every season aiming to win all four trophies and obviously that’s a huge challenge.
“When you get into the season and play two games a week, it’s impossible to be at the top level every single game, but we work hard every day to put ourselves in the best position. It’s no coincidence that we’ve won it four times because we work towards it every year and we hope to do it again this season.”
The tournament, which provides a platform for young players such as Foden to experience first-team football, has seen the midfielder go from City youth graduate to England international and Premier League starlet.
“It’s a really important competition and you can see that in the teams that the manager picks,” he continued. “Like I say, it’s no coincidence that we’ve lifted the trophy for the last four years because we take it really seriously. We want to win every competition and the Carabao Cup is part of that.
“It also gives players here and at other clubs the chance to get some minutes and that’s a great opportunity to try and take. When I played against Oxford, I wanted to leave an impression and the Cup gives you chance to do that.”
Manchester City are on the brink of a fifth successive Carabao Cup title, along with a record ninth success. However, Foden remains grounded about the task that lies before him and his team-mates.
“To win it for a fifth time would be incredible but there is a long way to go and we are not looking that far ahead,” he said. “We’re always looking to be the best that we can be and the longer we keep winning the more you get used to it.
“Playing in Cup Finals is a really important experience and the more you do it, the more you know what to expect and how to find a way to win the game. Hopefully, we can do that again this season, but we’ll take each game as it comes.
“It’s really special winning a medal. In the first couple of seasons, I was a little less involved and it’s just nice to be part of the group being successful. You work hard in training, push everyone on and you feel like you’ve played a role. But nothing compares to playing and starting in those games.
“2020 was really special for me because I won the man of the match award and last year too because winning the competition then felt like a reward for all the hard work we’d put in during lockdown. Everyone found that period more difficult than usual so to win a trophy gives the whole squad a lift as you look ahead to the end of the season.”
He was even recognised for his individual qualities, winning the Alan Hardaker Man of the Match Trophy in the 2020 Final.
“It was important for me but mainly because I’d helped the team win. Obviously, it’s nice to win the individual awards but only if you win the trophy. It was great to start the game that day and have such a positive impact but what I remember most is celebrating with the lads after the game because we’d won another Cup.”
The competition means much more to the midfielder, who netted his first goal in City colours in the Carabao Cup against Oxford United in September 2018, aged just 18. With City 2-0 up heading into added-time, Foden put the icing on the cake in the 92nd minute as the Premier League Club booked their place in Round Four of the competition.
And the performance even earned him praise from rival boss Karl Robinson, who gushed that Foden’s ability was something football “hasn’t seen for a long time”.
“It was a really special moment for me,” Foden recalled. “Scoring for the team that you’ve supported ever since you were little is something that I’ll remember forever. I think you could see in my celebration how much it meant to me and it set me on my way for what’s followed.”