John Stones has become an idol for Manchester City fans, and after fighting his way back into the team three years after being on the fringes of the squad, his importance to the club has become even more evident. The do-it-all defender excels in both a defensive and midfield role and often scores stunning goals.
Stones was integral to City’s Premier League title and FA Cup win, as well as their victories over Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Go to any Manchester City game, and it’s his name that is chanted more than anyone else – even more than Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, and Pep Guardiola.
John Stones, who is certain to start in Saturday’s Champions League final against Inter Milan, had sunk to his lowest point in his career just three years ago. Through self critique, hard work and focus on the “small margins” in training, the Manchester City defender has bounced back and has become one of the most successful players in the team.
“I literally went back to firstly looking at myself, being super critical of myself and what I could do better on the football pitch, and then looking into every fine detail, down to food, what food, training, what training, what extras.” he recounts of his journey back to qualification. Despite the tough competition, he stayed determined and used his feelings of being left out to motivate himself for better results.
Speculation emerged of Stones leaving Manchester City, but he was determined to stay and prove to himself that he could be at this level. “So no, I always wanted to stay, I have stayed and I absolutely love it.” he said. “I wanted to prove to myself, I didn’t say to anyone ‘It was because I want to prove to you’. I think, in anything, you have to prove to yourself first and foremost that you deserve to be here, you are good enough to be here, and what you bring to the team.”
Stones has shown to have unique abilities on the ball and unshakable confidence that drew appreciation from coach Pep Guardiola who made him his new project this year. This then set the stage for his performance that has led him to the Champions League final and possible victory.
John Stones has always had the potential to be a great midfielder, and now the Manchester City star is thriving in his new role. Although Guardiola was the first manager to give him an opportunity, there have always been people who have recognised Stones’ potential in that position. The England international says he loves playing in both roles and his ability to bring something new to the midfield has been recognised by Guardiola.
Stones explains that his team always take earlier, humble approach despite the fact they are the reigning English champions who have a history of extraordinary success. They must be vigilant not to underestimate their opponents, realizing that Inter Milan will be a tough opponent in the Champions League final.
An English championship and a Champions League victory would be a great accomplishment after all the obstacles Stones has faced, but instead of dwelling on that notion he is focusing on the task at hand. He reflects that success would be especially sweet having come so far, but he is yet to think about it: “ask me after that”.