Perhaps one of the most meaningful storylines in this awe inspiring season for Manchester City is the resurgence of central defender John Stones.
The 26 year-old spoke out about the dark period he went through both on and off the pitch, and just how hard he fought to regain his status as an elite defender in English football.
In an exclusive interview with James Ducker of the Telegraph, the Englishman opened up about the nearly full season in which he had lost his fitness, confidence and happiness.
“I was very frustrated, the manager knew that. It was difficult not to play on such a big occasion but I went up [to see him]. We didn’t have any sort of big conversation really, I just knew what I had to do — I just had to become better. And if the opportunity came — cherish it.”
“I told him I was going to fight and not give up on anything...”
Stones did not hold back in his admittance that he went through some dark times as he struggled on and off the pitch.
“One hundred per cent,” he says. “I couldn’t name a specific time but … I wasn’t enjoying not playing. I was sat on the bench game after game and it’s difficult sometimes to see a way back. Sometimes that’s you overthinking it or you’re not seeing clearly. I had to snap out of that quite quick — stay positive” said Stones.
It is apparent that the mental fortitude required to climb back up to the top was flowing within Stones, but translating that to the gym, and to the pitch for a consistently injured player is another thing. Stones had this to say on his persistence in trying to regain his fitness.
“I had to look at myself and what I could do to improve, to stop getting these little injuries and put myself in the best position to sustain the demands of playing every three days,” he said. “I just went away and dedicated everything to becoming better in that regard.”
All of that hard work has now paid off for the big defender as he has worked himself back into a near permanent fixture in Pep Guardiola’s squad - a squad that has now won a record setting 21 straight matches.
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