Vincent Kompany admits that he could have left Manchester City much sooner, but the loyal Belgian snubbed all advances from afar to become a legend with the Blues.
After 11 years in English football, Kompany took the decision to head back to his homeland and take on a player-coach role at Anderlecht.
He walked away as a four-time Premier League title winner, while claiming an historic domestic treble in his final campaign, but admits that he could have cut short his spell when at the peak of his powers.
The 33-year-old defender, who is preparing for a star-studded testimonial at City, told Sky Sports: “I could have ended up at another club, and out of four league titles you could have maybe turned it into eight, depending on which club you go to, and how successful it is.
“It's a competitive club, City. It's not like you can sit down for a year and wait around for what happens.
“Every transfer window, every six months, you are competing with the rest of the world. Anyone better in the world, they have the responsibility to get to improve the team, and so nobody gives you the gift of staying at City for 11 years, you have to earn it for 11 years.
“Doing this, while being impeded by your body, my mother would have been proud of me.”
Kompany played a leading role in helping City to become the superpower they are today, with his services having been acquired from Hamburg prior to the arrival of Sheikh Mansour’s billions.
He is rightly proud of all that he achieved, with the club left in a much better shape than when he arrived.
“I know I played a role in shaping the culture of the club, and probably the future of the club, and that means a lot,” added Kompany.
“There aren't many clubs where you can do it like this. It was a special journey.
“The owners came in, and they were owners who give you time to build, the perfect type of owners for the club. So many come in and say they're going to pile money in, be successful, but never achieve it.
“That ownership group came in and said they were going to build a plan and vision, and can anyone doubt they did that?
“Not everything was bad when I arrived, we had to change some of the players to become a winning team, but it was a great club with a fantastic history, and I think that's the thing I tried to keep sharing.”
Among the more memorable experiences that Kompany took in during his time with City are Sergio Aguero’s dramatic title winner in 2012 and his own stunning effort against Leicester which helped to seal another crown in 2019.
Kompany added: “Typical City fashion would have been to lose the game [against QPR] and blow it. That's what typical City meant in those days. Now typical City is defined by the Kun Aguero moment, you don't give up, you come back and win games.
“Was my goal against Leicester more important? His goal was more important! Mine, well, looked better, which I never thought I'd have on him!
“But his was crucial. He did do his best to wait until that time, because he had the worst 93 minutes of his career, and I would have had a word to say about this after the game if he didn't score, but that's the beauty of his job! One second can always turn it around.”