Phil Foden: 13 things you might not know about English football’s best young player

  • Rob Swan

Phil Foden has been in magnificent form for Manchester City since the Premier League restarted last month.

The 20-year-old has scored four goals in three games, including City’s third goal in Thursday night’s emphatic 4-0 victory over newly-crowned champions Liverpool.

Foden, who played the full 90 minutes at the Etihad, was hailed by manager Pep Guardiola after the match.

“I don’t want to say anything wrong but I think that Gareth Southgate has an incredible talent in his hands for the national team,” the City boss was quoted saying by talkSPORT.

“I’ve seen many players in my life – I have trained incredible, incredible players and Phil will be one of them.”

This isn’t the first time that Guardiola has lavished the youngster with praise.

With that in mind, we thought we’d list 13 things you might not know about English football’s most talented young player.

He can’t get enough football in his life

Over the past few years, various videos have emerged of Foden playing football in the streets back in Stockport – despite being contracted to City.

Check this video out – it’s like the ball is permanently glued to his feet.

Lockdown was particularly tough for Foden, who was reminded of his responsibilities by City last month after being pictured playing football with members of the public on Formby beach.

Pep Guardiola called him ‘the most talented player’ he’s ever seen

Guardiola is Foden’s biggest fan. In July 2019, he described Foden as “the most talented player” he has ever seen.

And this is the guy who coached Lionel Messi for four years, remember.

“He has everything to become one of the best players,” Guardiola said.

“I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him, Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager.

“His only problem is sometimes his manager doesn’t put him in the starting XI. Hopefully in the future that can improve.”

He bought a £2 million home for his family aged 18

At the age of just 18, Foden bought a £2 million home for himself and his family because he was determined to keep his close-knit family together, the Daily Mail reported in October 2018.

Foden moved his family from Edgeley in Stockport to Bramhall in south Manchester.

A lovely gesture from such a young lad.

Foden also became a father aged 18

Just months after buying the house, Foden became a dad when his childhood sweetheart Rebecca Cooke gave birth to their son, Ronnie.

“If you have a bad game or a bad session, you’re disappointed, but now I think about the bigger picture,” Foden said last year.

“I go home and see him smiling, so there’s more important things than worrying about one bad session.

“You look at things in a different way when you’ve got a kid.

“Honestly, I’m really enjoying it, but I find it quite difficult, always having away games and being away from him. He’s one now, so he’s missing me a bit.

“There are things you miss when you’re not there because you’ve got an away game.

“I was there when he started crawling, but I think I was in London when he started to walk.

“Now he’s getting about and walking everywhere, so you have to have eyes in the back of your head or he starts running off.

“It’s unfortunate to miss things like that but it’s a sacrifice that he’ll appreciate when he’s older.”

Foden has always been a massive City fan

Foden joined City in 2009 at the age of eight and was already a huge fan of the club by this point.

Back then, City weren’t the powerhouse that they are today – so it’s safe to say the youngster is a proper fan.

But his dad is a Manchester United supporter!

That’s right: Phil Snr. is actually a Man Utd fan.

Had Phil Jr. decided to support his dad’s team, perhaps he’d now be plying his trade at Old Trafford rather than the Etihad.

“Derbies used to be crazy because our family is split between City and United,” he told City’s website in 2019.

“It used to be crazy watching it. There were a lot of scenes. My brother’s a United fan, so he’d wear his United top and I’d wear a City one and when someone scored we’d give each other banter.

“My dad’s a United fan and he comes and watches, and I ask him who he’ll support and he says City, just for that day. I’m changing him slowly!”


His nickname is ‘Ronnie’

Foden has always been referred to as ‘Ronnie’ by his family. It was the nickname his nan suggested to avoid the confusion of sharing his own dad’s name.

But now ‘Ronnie’ is the name of his little boy – so yeah, that’s probably going to cause even more confusion.


He’s also known as ‘The Baby Shark’ and ‘The Stockport Iniesta’

Benjamin Mendy has referred to Foden as ‘The Baby Shark’ many times on social media, while ‘The Stockport Iniesta’ seems a fitting nickname for a player who has many of the same attributes as the Barcelona legend.

He absolutely loves fishing

When Foden isn’t kicking a ball about or looking after his young son, he loves a spot of fishing in his spare time.

“Probably about 95% of the football lads don’t enjoy it,” Foden, who missed the City players’ 2018 Premier League title celebrations due to a pre-planned fishing trip with his dad, revealed.

“The odd one likes fishing, so when people find out they say: ‘what a weird sport to enjoy’. They don’t understand why you enjoy it.

“Obviously, they need to go and try it. I think it’s the perfect hobby to rest your legs and have some down time.”

Foden is a Guinness World Record holder

Yep, you’ll find Foden’s name in the Guinness World Records book.


Because he’s the youngest player to win the Premier League.

Aged 17 years and 350 days at the end of the 2017-19 season, Foden received a winners’ medal after City ended the campaign with a record-breaking 100 points.


He also holds two Champions League records

In December 2017, Foden became the first player born after the year 2000 to start a Champions League match when City lost 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk.

He also became the youngest Englishman to start a game in Europe’s top-level club competition, aged 17 years and 192 days, beating the previous record set by former Chelsea youngster Josh McEachran.


Foden is an Under-17 World Cup Golden Ball winner

England won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and Foden was the star of the show in a team that also featured the likes of Jadon Sancho, Rhian Brewster and Angel Gomes.

Foden, who scored twice in England’s 5-2 win over Spain in the final, deservedly picked up the Golden Ball at the end of the tournament.

He’s also won the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year award

In 2017, Foden followed in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney and Andy Murray by winning the coveted
BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

“It meant everything,” Foden said, when asked about being named the Under-17 World Cup’s best player. “But I would like to thank my team-mates, without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”


Fast-forward three years and it’s now even more obvious that the sky’s the limit for this huge talent.

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