'These guys are legends': Guardiola salutes Man City's champions

Monday May 23 2022
Manchester City

Manchester City's players celebrate with the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after their English Premier League match against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.

By AFP

Manchester. Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's Premier League champions are "legends" who will be "remembered forever" after their thrilling 3-2 win against Aston Villa clinched the title on the last day of the season.

Guardiola's side looked set to gift the trophy to second placed Liverpool after Villa took a shock two-goal lead in the second half at the Etihad Stadium.

But Guardiola sent on German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and he sparked an incredible revival as City scored three times in five minutes in the closing stages.

Gundogan got City's first and bagged the winner in the 81st minute after Rodri's equaliser.

The incredible comeback gave City their fourth title in five seasons as they finished one point ahead of Liverpool to end their rivals' quadruple bid.

Only Manchester United in the Alex Ferguson era have won the title so many times in a five-year period.

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And Guardiola believes his team deserve to be ranked among the greatest in English football history.

"These guys are legends. When you win in this country four times in five years, it is because these guys are so special. They will be remembered forever," Guardiola said.

Guardiola admitted it was a nerve-wracking afternoon as his side overcame a nervous display to retain the title in the most dramatic fashion.

"The last game is special. A lot of emotion against a good Aston Villa team. We are playing in non normal circumstances. We had to handle it," he said.

"After their second goal it was really difficult. It was 'get the first goal', then we had momentum and our people did the rest.

"Gundo is the best runner we have. After we equalised, we had the feeling we could score again. Winning at home with our fans is the best."

Guardiola saluted Liverpool's relentless pursuit of City, with their 3-1 win against Wolves on the last day putting them in position to take the title if the champions hadn't fought back in such astonishing style.

"I've never see a team like Liverpool in my life. I know how tough it is but they help us be a better team season by season. Big congratulations to them," he said.

After losing in heartbreaking fashion against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals -- when they conceded twice in the last seconds before losing in extra-time -- City's spirited refusal to surrender the title was the perfect tonic for Guardiola.

"The rivals here are so tough. It was a real tough two months in the Champions League and in the Premier League. But we are champions again," the Spaniard said.

Asked if City's success will convince him to sign an extension to the contract that runs out at the end of next season, noted golf lover Guardiola smiled and said: "Now golf! I need it!

"Next season will be tough. We will defend our crown again and again."