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Kompany's personal title triumph: Why the captain is Man City's story of the season

COMMENT: He had an influence, but wasn't decisive. His name's not among the Player of the Year nominees. But for the champions, there is no greater story from this Manchester City season than Vincent Kompany.

Kevin de Bruyne's emergence as a genuine world class talent. The consistent quality of David Silva. The impact of Ederson in his first Premier League season. There's heroes throughout this title winning squad - including the manager.

But for courage. Passion. For sheer fight and an unwillingness to accept defeat. No-one epitomises that more in the British game than Kompany. You don't have to be a City supporter - indeed, even the most ardent Manchester United fan must have a begrudging respect - to be happy for the Belgian.

Remember all those reports before Christmas? How Pep Guardiola had lost patience with his captain? He could no longer be relied upon. The injuries. The time on the sidelines. It was becoming ridiculous. A farce. And the manager had had enough of it.

And by rights, Kompany shouldn't even be part of this. The calf strain, yet another one, suffered in December had Guardiola at the end his rope. The captain was a goner. City just couldn't indulge him, no matter how highly thought of he was inside the club.

That setback in the win at Old Trafford was injury number 42 for Kompany as a City player. 42! And before this season's kickoff, in the last two campaigns he'd managed just 25 appearances. Is it any wonder Guardiola was making plans without him?

"I don't know what is going to happen," Guardiola said post-match at United. "Unfortunately he is injured again.

"Unfortunately we can't count on him for a long time..."

Then just a fortnight later, it happened again - this time at Newcastle.

Guardiola groaned: "Unfortunately he is injured again like the last three years. I don't know how long for."

But today? Today a fit, in-form and vital Kompany is preparing to lift the Premier League crown. What's remarkable isn't that he's managed to get back on the pitch. But the manner with which he's returned to action.

This isn't a veteran on his last legs, his body struggling to get him over the line. Kompany is playing as well as ever. He's 31. And despite those 42 injuries, he's playing like a young 31.

Even with his fitness record, on today's form, if he was suddenly to become available every manager across Europe would be willing to take the gamble.

As he has proven since the New Year, Kompany is as good as any centre-half in the game. The blip City suffered in recent weeks wasn't down to the Belgian. It was his partner, Nicolas Otamendi, who was fingered for the collapses against United and Liverpool. Kompany was as good as ever. He didn't let anyone down.

This column thought we'd seen it all with Craig Gordon and his incredible drive to overcome a series of knee injuries. The Scot was out of the game for three years trying to find a solution, yet today is a Champions League player and multiple title winner with Celtic.

But Kompany is definitely in the same class. That fortitude. That desperate desire to overcome. The mental strength to keep going - despite setback after setback. It has to be inspiring for everyone Kompany touches.

And perhaps that's why Guardiola also persisted. The Catalan can be ruthless. Just ask Cesc Fabregas or Gerard Pique. But despite public utterances, the manager stood by his captain. There's something special about Kompany - and Guardiola knew it.

Of course the fairytale could've happened a week earlier. That opening goal in the derby. At that moment, all the pain and anguish must have been worth it for Kompany. But by the end of game, it wasn't to be. City would have to wait another week to be confirmed champions.

And knowing what he's been through, Kompany wouldn't have given such a missed opportunity a second's thought.

So as he celebrates with friends and family at his local pub, be happy for Vincent Kompany - proof that persistence, drive and perseverance can still be rewarded in today's world.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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