The hug with Kevin De Bruyne at the final whistle in Istanbul said it all. Finally, the trophy Guardiola and his talismanic midfielder had pursued for so long was theirs
“When we arrived seven years ago, people said we had to win [titles] at Manchester City – probably because of my past at other teams – but I didn’t have that feeling,” Guardiola explained in July. “After winning four or five Premier Leagues, everybody started to say that if we didn’t win the Champions League, it wouldn’t be a complete success. We could accept that reality, but it was because of the previous five Premier League titles we had won. We had reached a final where we didn’t really perform [against Chelsea], then reached a couple of semi-finals. We could feel that we were really close.
“However, we always spoke about it: it wasn’t about reaching this final and then not showing up. The most important thing is that we have been there or thereabouts for a long time, and when you consistently get there over a long period, you’ll win eventually. Kevin is the only player who was already there when I arrived. [İlkay] Gündoğan arrived at the same time as us, the same for John Stones, but Kevin was the only one who was already here under the previous manager.
“Our relationship is special; we have been through so much together. We have fought a lot, we have hugged a lot, and it was a moment to say, ‘We did it. It’s done.’ They said those previous Premier League and FA Cup titles we had won [would mean] nothing if we didn’t win the Champions League. Well, they will have to find another argument because we won it.”