Kevin De Bruyne’s wife, Michèle Lacroix, always believed that Manchester City would win their first Champions League title against Internazionale. Despite De Bruyne’s injury troubles, she remained convinced of their destiny. De Bruyne, reflecting on his wife’s prediction, admitted that she was right, although he found it a bit disappointing to admit it.
De Bruyne’s personal dream did not come true in the final as he suffered a hamstring injury and had to be substituted in the 36th minute. This injury adds to the list of setbacks he faced, including a broken nose, fractured eye socket, and concussion in the previous Champions League final against Chelsea in 2021. De Bruyne will undergo a scan, but he anticipates a recovery period of up to three months due to a grade three hamstring tear. These injuries serve as a reminder of the toll that a demanding season, comprising 57 games for club and country, can take on a player’s body.
After Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Inter, the notion of destiny seemed to be at play. Pep Guardiola, the City manager, was seen staring at a TV showing the replay of Romelu Lukaku’s missed header, which could have changed the outcome of the match. Guardiola, not reacting to the question about Lukaku’s miss, blew out his cheeks and left the scene. City had their fair share of scares during the game, with Federico Dimarco hitting the crossbar and Ederson making a crucial save in the dying minutes.
Despite not performing at their best, City’s triumph felt like redemption for their previous disappointments in the Champions League, such as their undeserved defeat to Real Madrid in the semi-finals last season and the VAR-ruled exit against Tottenham in the 2019 quarter-finals. The victory was a testament to City’s ability to win when it mattered most.
Guardiola expressed his belief that the victory was written in the stars or, more accurately, in City’s muscle memory. The scenes after the match were filled with jubilation, as players celebrated in the dressing room and the mixed zone. Jack Grealish made a grand entrance with Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” blaring from a boombox, while Erling Haaland playfully pretended to snore during an interview. The players savored the moment, with John Stones enjoying a beer after an 11-month break and Kyle Walker expressing his gratitude.
For the City supporters in Istanbul, the memories of the triumph will last a lifetime. Although the journey to and from the Ataturk stadium posed challenges due to the city’s chaotic traffic, the fans were not deterred. Istanbul’s unique atmosphere added to the memorable experience, reminding some of Liverpool’s 2005 victory in the same city.
De Bruyne exemplified the team’s spirit by giving his all despite his injury. Even after being substituted, he continued to support his teammates from the touchline. He acknowledged that he had been struggling with the injury since the Bayern Munich game, but he was determined to contribute to the team’s success. De Bruyne’s dedication and resilience were evident throughout the season, as he managed to play crucial matches against Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid, despite personal difficulties.
In the end, De Bruyne’s sacrifices paid off as Manchester City achieved their treble dream by winning the Champions League. Despite his own disappointment, he is proud of the team’s accomplishment and remains positive about the future.