Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Monday March 2 2009
The day before last week's crucial UEFA Cup win over FC Copenhagen, City's Communications Team invited Vital MC to Carrington to interview City and England's SWP...
On a grey day over Manchester, we arrived at Carrington and were made to feel very welcome by City's Media and Communications Team as the players arrived for training.
In direct contrast to stories stirred up by sports hacks throughout this season, we found the atmosphere to be calm, positive and business like as the players parked their cars and made their way into work. We found them to be polite and courteous, particularly Benjani, Zab and Gelson.
SWP met us after his breakfast and we decamped to the 'Recruitment Office' where City's scouting network is co-ordinated from. It was immediately clear looking at the white board that City's net is cast far and wide, at the same time reassuring to know that the club is not reliant upon agent's software to find new players as many clubs are in the modern era.
It was a busy morning with the UEFA Press conference dominating proceedings and time was tight, but Shaun appeared relaxed, focused and came across as a genuinely honourable man thoroughly deserving of the legendary status he holds with City's fans.
How does it feel to be back at City, Shaun?
'It's like a dream. I always wanted to come back one day. It's good to be back.'
Do you think you were given a fair chance at Chelsea?
'Well, I had my chances. It was a bit of both really.'
What are the major changes you have seen since your return?
'The management staff and of course the ownership, but everyone's looking forward and the club's the same as it was really.'
There are some great prospects coming through the City Academy, as you did, Shaun. Which have caught your eye as likely first-teamers, given time?
'There is a midfielder called Adam Clayton coming through who is really willing to learn. He is looking like a really good prospect.'
When you were rejected by Nottingham Forest you must have been gutted, but how did you end up at City and what advice would you give to young kids getting rejected from clubs?
'My Mum and Dad have always told me that if you want to do something you can do it. When it was difficult, I had my friends and family there who helped me. My Mum and Dad taught me that you have to believe in yourself and you must not doubt yourself. Then you can achieve what you want.'
Shaun, both you and Craig Bellamy have invested a lot of time and money in helping youth abroad. Have you two taken time out to compare notes about these projects?
'No not yet, as he's only just arrived. But we have both done things that would be good to talk about in the future.'
What makes you so passionate out on the field..? Is it the need to win at anything you do..? Is it the club...or is it the adoration of the fans?
'A bit of all of that really. I really enjoy playing for all of those reasons. But also, I am not a good loser.'
Can you see yourself ending your career at City now you're back or would you like a chance to play in Serie A or La Liga one day?
'No, I am not going anywhere. I want to finish my career here at City.'
You regularly seem to be able to galvanise the team. When are they going to see the light and make you Captain?
'Well, that's not down to me. (smiles!) Everyone wants to do it. I am not a shouter, I am a do-er, I am more someone who leads by example. So it depends.'
What are your aspirations for MCFC for this season?
'This has been a slow season. We are gelling together, getting the team together. I really want us to keep our place in Europe.'
How close do you think City are to realistically challenging for a top 4 place and which player do you think would make that 'dream' happen sooner?
'It's not a matter of one player. It is to do with the consistency of the players that we have, especially when we are playing away from home.'
All City fans know you are 'indestructible' Shaun - but we have also seen some sides trying to kick you off the park. Other players seem to dive almost as a bad habit. Has diving become an acceptable part of the sport?
'Yeah and no. It isn't acceptable. But you know which one's will do it. You know why they do it and you just have to stand up instead. You have to be aware of what might happen and try to avoid it, especially when going into a tackle.
- Please don't say I'm indestructible though! The last time someone said I was indestructible, I ended up injured!' (touches wood!)
Do you approve of a foreign coach as England manager and what is your opinion of Fabio Capello?
'Honestly, if we are taken to the World Cup Final, if the manager is good at what he does, then he is fine by me and all the other players.'
Who is the best coach you learned from?
'I have learnt from all sorts of people, I have been helped along by everyone. But I was inspired the most by Joe Royle as a kid. When we were fighting relegation battles he showed us how not to give up.'
Who is the best player you ever played with?!
'There isn't just one. I have played with a lot of really good players. In my first time at City I played with Eyal Berkovic and Ali Bernarbia. At Chelsea I played with Didier (Drogba), Lampsy (Frank Lampard), Petr Cech and JT (John Terry). Deco is a great player.'
What is the best goal you ever scored?!
'My first against Millwall when there were no fans there. On the way down there, I was talking about scoring with Darren Huckerby and Shaun Goater and then I scored!'
…after the interview I talked to Shaun about the inspirational Carl Tilson, our very own MCFC Thriller's initiative in starting the 'Bring back Shaun Wright-Phillips' petition. Shaun asked me to say hello to Carl from him.
Vital Manchester City wishes to thank our Number Eight Shaun Wright-Phillips and the Manchester City Football Club Communications Team for making this exclusive, unprecedented independent City fan's website interview possible and for giving us their time during such a busy period at Carrington.
Vital Manchester City also wishes to thank the Vital MC Posse who rallied to the cause with questions to 'Shaun Vital-Phillips' at short notice the night before the interview: Sindbad, Doody, Bluemooner, Barney Daniels, Roy Harper, City 81, Buzz Lightyear, kennyclementstache, Thaibluefan, lincolnblue, and mcfcirish.
- We couldn't use all your questions otherwise we'd have held up the UEFA Cup press conference and Shaun wouldn't have made training, but here's to our next meeting at City and hopefully we'll be able to arrange greater future notice!
Interview copyright Vital Manchester City and The Vital Football Network / Image copyright KT Communications 2009
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