Kevin De Bruyne has revealed his Champions League final hamstring injury had plagued him through the final weeks of Manchester City’s charge to treble glory.
De Bruyne was forced to come off after 35 minutes of City’s 1-0 win against Inter Milan in the Champions League showpiece on Saturday.
City’s treble-clinching triumph in Istanbul was one match too many for De Bruyne at the end of gruelling personal campaign.
He knew he had been at risk of aggravating the problem for several weeks, but opted to play on as City powered to Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League silverware.
The Belgium midfielder now faces a fight to be fit in time for the start of next season after reportedly snapping the hamstring.
“I give everything for my team and the people in the club know that. I feel proud that I’ve been able to do what I did,” De Bruyne said.
“It’s a shame that it went the way it did for me here, but we go away winning the Champions League so there’s nothing bad towards it.
“I felt all right this week, but I’ve been told for two months it was a risk but, you know, you take it.
“I did what I had to do. Obviously, I missed some games, but the games like Arsenal, Bayern and Madrid I managed to do it.
“I had some personal things happen with my family on top of that and I managed that, but, here, the hamstring just snapped.”
De Bruyne also failed to complete the 2021 Champions League final against Chelsea after sustaining a serious facial injury.
On that occasion, City were beaten 1-0, but this time Pep Guardiola’s men triumphed without De Bruyne to end their long wait to win Europe’s elite club competition for the first time.
“I don’t look at football that way. It is what it is,” De Bruyne said.
“I felt the team was able to manage it and do their job. OK, the injury is never nice, but I was there for my team and did what I needed to do.”
‘We deserve it’
So often the key man for his team, De Bruyne was reduced to the role of an enthusiastic cheerleader on the touchline during the tense final minutes as City clung onto the lead given to them by Rodri’s second half goal.
After a series of painful European exits during his eight years at City, De Bruyne admitted the Champions League victory fulfilled a long-held dream.
“I’ve basically been fighting all my career with my team to win this medal,” he said.
City are only the second English club after Manchester United in 1999 to win all three major trophies in a single season.
With five Premier League titles in the last six seasons, they are already a domestic dynasty.
Asked if City could replicate their Premier League success by dominating in Europe as well, De Bruyne said: “The season is so long we should just enjoy this moment.
“We’ve had subdued parties up until now, but now we can really enjoy it for a couple of days, as we should.
“We’ve not lost one game in the Champions League this season so I think we deserve it.”
With De Bruyne sidelined for much of the match, John Stones emerged as City’s key midfielder.
The England defender has been deployed out of position as an extra midfielder by Guardiola recently and once again he was up to the challenge.
City defender Manuel Akanji was so impressed with Stones, he made a tongue in cheek comparison to Argentine legend Diego Maradona.
“The way he dribbled, he played like Maradona. He just took the ball, went past three people, passed it somewhere else,” Akanji said.
“He created a lot of opportunities for us. He is an unbelievable player.”
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