Vincent Kompany is a class act. His cool, calm and collected demeanour, both on and off the pitch, has proved to be the difference between Manchester City winning and losing the title this year.
At 26, the Belgian international's best years are ahead of him, and having already established himself as a tour de force in the Premier League, the Citizens' captain could now write his name into English football folklore, as the greatest central defender ever to have graced our domestic game.
When Kompany first arrived at the Etihad Stadium in a £6million deal from Hamburg in August 2008, the transfer almost passed unnoticeably under the radar, so vast were the other amounts of money exchanging hands, as City strived to recruit the biggest and best names from around Europe.
Fast forward four years though, and Kompany is now the first name on the teamsheet. His solid defensive presence, and assuredly quiet, but confident displays, have been central to the club's accomplishments over the past two seasons.
Both his, and City's combined success reached its climax in Sunday's astonishing title triumph - Roberto Mancini's players ending the club's 44 year wait for the top-flight trophy - following their 3-2 home victory over QPR. It was the realisation of a dream that looked to have been over less than one month earlier.
When Kompany was sent off in the 3-2 FA Cup third round defeat at the hands of Manchester United in January, his four-game suspension coincided with City's first real wobble in their 2011-12 title tilt. And, when you take into account their dip in form around March - the same time that their skipper was injured - the correlation becomes even clearer. His influence has never since been underestimated.
Kompany's central defensive partnership alongside Joleon Lescott is fast becoming one of the tightest in the Premier League, and the England international stopper is under no illusions as to the reason why they have built such a good understanding with each other.
"I'd like to feel I pull my own weight but we share the workload," he said in a recent interview. "Vinnie's form has been consistently good for a number of years now so you know when you play alongside him that as long as you try and match his levels of effort and commitment you won't be going far wrong."
It was pertinent when Kompany rose highest to powerfully head home the only goal in last month's 1-0 Manchester derby victory at the Etihad in April - a result that took City back to the Premier League summit with only two games remaining - and you could see what it meant to the captain by the way that he celebrated the decisive breakthrough.
It may have taken a few slip-ups from United to allow Mancini's men back into the title race, but the players still had to prove their strength of character. The way City bounced back from their defeat against Arsenal in early April was testament to their championship winning credentials.
With only 29 goals conceded all season, and 17 clean sheets to their name, the rock at the heart of the City defence has been instrumental in the club's fightback this year. Kompany's steely displays and towering authority have marked him out as one of, if not the key figure in their tantalising turnaround in form.
Mancini may not be the manager responsible for bringing Kompany to City initially, but he was quick to realise his leadership qualities, and made him captain once the disastrous decision to flatter Carlos Tevez's ego with the honour began to go wrong last year. It's a judgement that has paid dividends.
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