Phil Foden’s rise: generational talent and a feverish passion for football 

phil foden illustration
Phil Foden is a 23 year old with no fewer than 6 Premier League titles to his name. Let's take a look at how Foden became Foden.


Phil Foden has just won his sixth Premier League trophy at the age of 23.


The 2023/2024 title is the midfielder’s 17th piece of silverware as a Manchester City player and to this day, Foden remains the youngest player to have ever won the English top flight. With at least 12 years left in Foden’s career, the midfielder is on course to enjoy the most celebrated career in English football.


While only time will tell if Foden does eventually surpass Ryan Giggs’ haul of 34 trophies, the question is: how did Foden become the most talented player of his generation and possibly any to come before him?

While the temptation is to dismiss that last sentence, don’t forget that Pep Guardiola once described Foden as the most talented player he has ever seen in his managerial career. It is an astonishing thing to hear when you consider that Guardiola oversaw the rise of Lionel Messi while in charge of Barcelona.


Typically, it’s wise to listen when Guardiola speaks but however you might compare both Foden and Messi, they do have one thing in common: a natural ability that can’t be taught.


The gift of greatness


Admittedly, innate talent to this extraordinary degree is hard to fathom for mere mortals. We do, after all, spend our lives trying to find the answers to the simplest things.


At least, you might have looked up how to take the perfect free kick if you love football, or you might have searched for how to play the piano if you’re musically inclined. Of course, the desire to learn new techniques applies to all walks of life and doesn’t just have to be linked to sports; it can also apply to tech.


To that end, you might have looked up tutorials on how to create stunning videos with iMovie. Or if you’re a gaming enthusiast, you might have searched for guides on how to use Google Pay at casinos to streamline your transactions.


While these various how-to guides are incredibly useful, the broader point is that the journey of improvement and discovery is, in most cases, a lifelong pursuit for most of us.

Athletes like Messi and Foden meanwhile, are seemingly born with gifts that can’t be found in how-to manuals; they instinctively know what to do.

Passion and talent: an unbeatable combination


You would have heard on multiple occasions however that raw talent alone isn’t enough to reach the top as it has to be accompanied by a desire to dedicate your life to a particular sport.

Essentially, without a keen interest, these gifts are never truly realised. This was never a problem for Foden though as he would spend every waking minute of his formative years with a ball at his feet.


Indeed, the 2023/2024 Premier League Player of the Season would be seen on the modest street of Grenville in Stockport where he lived – lined with terraced homes, dribbling around the children in the neighbourhood who were brave enough to try and take the ball off him.

The stage was set at an early age 


In essence, with so little in terms of worldly possessions, Foden turned to football for his entertainment and in doing so, harnessed that natural ability he had been born with.

Being football obsessed even led to Foden’s mother saying: “He was the cheapest kid ever. Just get him a wind ball and he’d be happy. He didn’t care about anything else.”

This tunnel vision for the beautiful game and natural talent at an early age laid the foundations for a career that might surpass anything we’ve ever seen before. 



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