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Nicky Summerbee, the former Manchester City midfielder, also had spells with several other teams including Swindon Town, Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers and was capped for England at C and U-21 level.

Nicky spent three years at Maine Road, in a Blues side that also included the likes of Georgi Kinkladze, Uwe Rosler, Peter Beagrie and Paul Walsh amongst others.

Nicky’s father Mike Summerbee – also a former City player was a huge part of the 1968 side that won the Division 1 title.

In this interview by Josh Lawless (JL), Nicky (NS) talks about his experiences as a player, his father, the current city side, how he thinks City will do this season — and much more.

JL: Since hanging your boots up in 2006, what have you been up to? Nicky Summerbee

NS: Well I’ve had all sorts, I’ve had businesses, I had a pub outside Man City’s ground, which I bought just before the commonwealth games. I’ve had building companies, I was selling cars. But pretty much now, I’m covering matches, I do a lot of media work and after dinner speaking work, talking about something that I know, which is football. Its difficult when you finish football because to try and get your work sorted out is difficult, but your best sticking to what you know really and for me its football, talking about Man City and everything , you get a lot of work and that and doing the after dinner speaking.

JL: So do you miss football? and why?

NS: Yeah you do, because its adrenaline of playing in front of big crowds every week, no matter what level your playing at, whether your playing in the fourth division, in the conference, there’s a bit of a crowd there, and when your playing in The Premiership it’s the training every day, keeping fit, you know, building your life up to a game at the weekend or in midweek, stepping out on the pitch to the adrenaline rush of the crowd is what you miss.

I think you miss the dressing room banter with the lads as well, it’s good every game having a bit of mickey-taking and giving a little bit back, that’s what you miss. But the main thing what everyone does miss is stepping out on the pitch every match, it sends a shiver down your spine, stepping out on the pitch to play football. You’ll never get that again, so all you’re left with is memories and what you think you probably should or shouldn’t have done.

JL: As a kid, you had trials with many teams and you signed for Swindon, but was it always your intention to play for City?

NS: It wasn’t really, it was just I was making my way in the game, I had trials with Manchester United, City, Norwich City, Leicester City, and of course most didn’t take me on. Which, looking back now, gave me the strength to make it. One day there was a trial on at Swindon, where my dad started off, there was a guy there called Cecil Green, who was like a father figure to dad. He said why don’t you give it a go? And I went down there and that was it.

I had a bit of luck, you know when I was there they had some good managers like Lou Macari, Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle came in. We were lucky, as we had a good season and we made it to the Premiership. As you can see now with a lot of the teams, if you get to the Premiership and you have a good season, you might get yourself a move. I was in the game and trying to make it as high as possible and all of a sudden I had that good season and then a few clubs were interested. There was Aston Villa, Celtic, Blackburn Rovers and then Man City came in for me, but there was only going to be one move for me. I used to go an watch the games with my dad and the groundsman Stan Gibson and I could really feel the atmosphere, and I just felt one day I’d love to have the opportunity to play in a Manchester derby. When Man City came along it was a dream.

JL: What do you make of the signings City have made in the summer transfer window, will they settle in quickly do you think?

NS: I think they’ll have to settle in quickly, with the progress that City have made, they are certainly well ahead of where they should be, but the quality of player that’s come in like Yaya Toure, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, they’ve got big games in them and they haven’t really had time to bed in to be honest.

They have to really hit the floor running, you know this season in the Champions League: they’ve got Real Madrid in the group and every game’s a massive game for City, if they’re going to regain the title.

Scott Sinclair, I hope he does well, I think he will do well. He’s not at Swansea Citynow, he’s at a bigger club and he’ll have to continue what he did at Swansea for Manchester City. I thought Adam Johnson was a good player and I would put him ahead of Sinclair at the moment, but Sinclair has got his chance and hopefully he can get that form going here.

The players that have come in are very good but they’ve got a big squad, they have one of the best midfielders in the world in Yaya Toure. Tevez is like a brand new signing. When I went to watch them at the beginning of the season against Chelsea, they looked breath-taking and its strange really because Chelsea have started the season off better than City, but I still fancy Man City to win the league this year.

JL: What do you think about Adam Johnson and Nigel de Jong departing the Etihad Stadium? Do you think they’ll be players who will be missed this season?

NS: I think they will definitely, I think de Jong wanted to go himself really, he was offered a deal and he didn’t sign the deal and he’s gone. I think Johnson wanted to play more games, he was in and out the team and did well when he played, I think everyone played a part last season in City winning the league, and Johnson certainly did. When he was playing or came on he’d always make a statement by scoring a goal or setting something up. He’ll be missed but he’s gone to play football, hopefully Sinclair comes in and does even better than Johnson.

Because I think we need a bit more width, we play a lot of football going through teams through the middle and having a bit of width is not predictable, it just gives them another option and it will give people like Silva a bit more room and they’ll be a little more dangerous. De Jong and Johnson will be missed without a shadow of a doubt, but City have got a great squad, so it’s not a problem. They have two squads really, Man City, so they are more than comfortable.

JL: Your dad was a big part of the side that won the league in 1968, did he have an influence on your decision to join City, giving the success he had with the blues?

NS: Well it wasn’t like that really, dad wasn’t pushy at all. He was always there to give me advice in certain situations, which was a massive plus and help to me. And for me to make it as a footballer, it was a lot more difficult for me, because of my dad, you see. People said ‘you only made it as a footballer because of your dad’. It’s the biggest load of rubbish ever, it was really difficult.

And all of a sudden Man City came, and it was like I made that option myself, my dad advised me, but it was all my choice. When a team like City comes knocking on the door, I didn’t really need any help at all, my decision was made.

JL: During your time at City you played with Georgi Kinkladze, a player who was incredible with the ball at his feet. How do you think he would fare if he was playing in today’s team?

Georgi KinkladzeNS: Well I think it’s perfect for Georgi now. The game was very different when my dad was playing, but during my time, while it was still quite physical, we were able to play the ball about. Today it’s much more about technique and flair play, and I think if he was playing now, they’d know when to give him the ball at the right time — they are all world class players. It would be perfect for Georgi. Unfortunately on that last day against Liverpool, when we couldn’t manage to stay up, we lost the chance to see a bit more of Georgi in the Premiership.

JL: Did you honestly ever see City winning the Premier League?

NS: Did I? Being honest, no. Obviously when the new owners came in, we thought "here we go!"

I’ve been used to living in Manchester when Man United were dominating all the time. It has been fantastic, the end of last season, well you couldn’t even write it in a script. The owners have put the money where the mouth is, and they’ve brought top quality players in.

The hardest stumbling block was to get that first trophy. When we got the first trophy at Wembley (the FA Cup) I thought it may took a couple of years until we won the league. But they’ve fully deserved it, they were quality last year and they were quality throughout the whole of last season. And the way that the won it as well, it was special. Did I think they were ever going to win it ever? No, not in my lifetime, but they have — and it’s fantastic.

JL: Roberto Mancini has done a terrific job at City, winning the FA Cup and the Premier League. Can he go on and lead City to Champions League glory?

NS: Without a shadow of a doubt yeah, he’s signed a 5-year deal now. When he first came in there were the usual people thinking he’s not good enough; but he’s proved them wrong and done really well.

He’s shrewd and he can play the mind games as well. The next level is to compete in the Champions League and I think all the players know that. Last time, City thought they could beat teams like Napoli 3 or 4-0. But it’s a totally different ball game, they catch you on the counter attack. I think City have got a great group this year, I don’t know because it’s a difficult group, but Mancini is capable of anything really.

JL: Can you honestly believe how far City have come in such a short space of time, having been known as ‘Typical City’ for all these years?

NS: Well its not typical City anymore, that mentality of the fans, that has to go now. You support your team through thick and thin, that’s what it’s all about and a lot of fans have seen bad times. City fans have held strong with it.

There’s a new belief now, the players are world-class players, so it’s different on the pitch now. You can’t help the fans because United were so dominant at the time and that’s one of the reasons for the sarcasm. But now we have the belief, especially on that last game of the season, that we can do it.

I think that the players have that belief as well, they may not have played so well at the start of this season but we still have the belief that they can win games of football. The fans have changed, they have got what they wanted and now its all looking rosy, it’s a case of filling that trophy cabinet up. The days of doom have gone now and I think it’s a case of kicking on. Every year it changes in the Premiership, you’ve got to step up and improve every year, so that’s what City are ready for and the fans are ready for the ride now.

JL: What should City aim to achieve this season?

NS: The aim is to secure back to back titles and then whatever competitions you’re in you have to go strong in it. We have the squad to be strong in every competition and they have to get the winning habit, they are capable of anything really. Champions League is going to be difficult, if you look who we’ve got in the group, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, its going to be very difficult, but they are capable of doing it, with the players that they have, they are capable of anything. If they can get another title, back to back, that would be great, as it’s very difficult. So that’s something all the other teams are going to be going for.

JL: Obviously Carlos Tevez has got himself fit for this season. Are you expecting a good season from him?

NS: Yes I am, I’m expecting him to be top goal-scorer or player of the year, that’s how good I think he’s gonna be. I think he’s sorted himself out, he’s got himself in fantastic nick, scored in every game and he’s looking the part. I think he’s like a new signing. No matter what happens with Tevez, he will give you 110%, you know that’s what it his with him at the end of the day. He’s going to be a top, top player this year. I think Samir Nasri will be a top player as well.

JL: What were you doing the exact moment Sergio Aguero popped up in the 93rd minute to clinch City’s first Premier League title?

NS: What was I doing? I was in the ground, I was really thinking it wasn’t gonna happen and it was just like an out of body experience when it came. I was kissing everyone, even when I watch it now, it sends a shiver down my back. It wasn’t really how it was supposed to pan out really, City weren’t really in the game, struggling and 2-1 down thinking here we go again and all of sudden we just got that goal in ‘Fergie Time’ or whatever you wanna call it, to win it at the end was just unbelievable.

JL: What is your favourite City game you played in?

NS: My favourite game is probably the one when Georgi (Kinkladze) scored that goal against Southampton. We all played well that well day. Georgi when he scored that goal, he got in on the half way line and jinked through everyone, it was a wonderful goal. But we were just on form that day and everyone enjoyed their football. I saw a lot of relegation when I was at City, but we did get it going occasionally. Georgi was the best player I have played with, some of the goals he scored were phenomenal and it was nice to be part of it.

JL: Who is your favourite current City player?

NS: My favourite current City player would have to be Yaya Toure, I think he’s immense. He’s a big game player and I just think he’s the real deal. He can step up on the occasion, like he did last year against Newcastle United, I think he’s perfect and there’s not many better than him. When you watch him, he gets the ball and he can just change defence into attack and make it look dead easy.

I’m also a fan of Micah Richards you know, I like Micah, I think he’s on the same level with Zaba (Pablo Zabaleta), but I think he’s got so much more to give.

JL: Out of all the players in the world, who would you like to see play for City and why?

NS: Who would I like to see and why? I’d have to say someone like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, I really would. They are the two best players in the world, without a shadow of a doubt. Probably Messi, I’d like to see him play here, just because the amount of goals he would score week in week out.

JL: How does the City side you played in compare to the side of today?

NS: It doesn’t really, I don’t think we could lace their boots to be honest! We had good players, but the players today are all world-class, international players. We did have some good players, but not as near as good as the players are now, these are all top, top players … there’s not really a comparison!

JL: City have been placed in yet another difficult Champions League group, in your opinion, do you think they can qualify?

NS: Yes course they can, there’s no reason why they can’t. They’ve got the players and the squad. Sometimes when you are playing against the best it raises your game even more. It’s perfect for City. They have the big game players, so there’s no reason why they can’t get to the next stage.

JL: What is your favourite experience or memory as a City player?

NS: My favourite memory is simply putting the kit on and having the opportunity to play for Manchester City. It’s something I’m proud of, because of my dad, because he was a club legend there, and I got the opportunity to play for City at Maine Road, playing in derbies and everything. It was a dream come true.

JL: Finally, your prediction for City in all competitions this season?

NS: I think City will win the league, I think maybe the FA Cup and I think it might be just a little bit of a bridge too far in the Champions League but I think they’ll get through the qualifying stages, so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Many thanks for Nicky for taking the time out to answer the questions; it really was a privilege to interview a former City player

Post written by Josh Lawless
Blog: Back of the Net, Twitter: @BackOfTheNetJL

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