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Exclusive: Man City always backed their youngsters, says Greenacre

Many football fans know Manchester City as a powerhouse of English football, and whose riches and influence reach further than just the elite of the Premier League.

Backed by Sheikh Mansour and Al Mubarak's City Football Group, the Sky Blues have seen their success kick off sister clubs and takeovers of other clubs around the world, truly cementing themselves as a worldly power.

However, few of today's younger fanatics won't know of City's rich history, and I don't mean financially.

It's the club's more humble background before the City Football Group's takeover, and no one knows Manchester City's roots like Chris Greenacre.

Having been at City from the age of 13 until he was 21, Greenacre was at City during his youth years before signing with Mansfield on the back of a successful loan with the Stags. Greenacre says that City have always shown a commitment to youth development even to this day.

"Before the new management came in, it already had a good youth program. In a squad of 18 players, there were a lot of young boys including myself who were in a first team environment and being treated no differently than the senior players. We were very lucky to be making a living from football at that age.

"Obviously it's been such a huge change, it's on another level how much they've revamped the club and the level of investment that has taken place. I haven't been back to City, but when I was there we were still at Maine Road, the new stadium is world class and I couldn't have imagined it like that when I was a young lad."

Greenacre proved his point by praising English young gun Phil Foden, who has begun breaking into the City first team in the last two years.

In 2017, Foden won the U-17 World Cup, the Golden Ball and made the Team of the Tournament. He was also involved with Manchester City's Premier League and EFL Cup successes of the 2017-18 season.

"I think he's fantastic, it's absolutely phenomenal when young players like Phil get through to the first team of such big clubs in top tier leagues, it shows the quality and perseverance despite the millions that can be invested.

"Top level coaches can buy who they like at a whim and it costs ridiculous amounts of money, so for Phil to break through that and make some appearances for City just goes to show there's plenty of untapped, home grown talent out there."

Chris Greenacre finished out his playing days with the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League before becoming an assistant coach, but has great memories of his time at City and can appreciate what the club has become.

"I look back on my time very fondly. It's something I'm very proud of, I had signed on school boy forms and I was very fortunate to have been there until I was 21. I got to represent that great club."

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Chris Sermeno

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