Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has recalled a time when he and a friend shared a glass of champagne with Pep Guardiola on the Catalan's birthday, while speaking exclusively to The Players' Tribune.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has always been known to be a great admirer of the abilities of the 30 year-old Germany international, making Gundogan his first ever signing as manager of Manchester City back in 2016.
Both men have maintained their close bond during the five years they have spent together in the North-West, and while speaking exclusively to The Players' Tribune this week, Ilkay Gundogan recalled a time when the two colleagues bonded over a bottle of champagne in their Manchester city centre apartment.
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"I was hanging out with a friend of mine when we remembered that it was Pep’s birthday. So my friend suggested that we give him a present", Gundogan opened.
"Pep is actually my neighbour here in Manchester, so we bought a bottle of champagne, my friend wrote him a card in Spanish, and then he went to knock on his door. When he came back, he said that Pep had been very happy about it."
The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder continued, "Anyway, I went back to the cinema room and kind of forgot about it. About half an hour later, there was a knock on the door. I was like, “Who the f*** is this?” I thought my friend had ordered pizza or something. My friend opened the door, and it was Pep!"
"He said, “Where’s Gundo?”
Gundogan continued by recalling the importance of moments like this - moments and memories spent with colleagues that he believes will stand out after his playing career has come to a close.
The Manchester City midfielder continued, "We were both really surprised, because Pep is such a private guy. We had seen him around in the elevator and stuff, but he had never been in my apartment."
"He had brought the champagne bottle and three glasses. He ended up staying for an hour or so, just to chill."
On the importance of these moments, Gundogan explained, "It reminded me that, even though we play football, this profession is also about humans, you know? And I think that, when I end my career, what I will remember the most are the people I shared it with. I guess you could say the same thing about life."
Gundogan has been in incredible goalscoring form this season, driving Manchester City to within just six points of their third Premier League title in just four seasons.
In just 25 Premier League appearances so far this season, the German has scored 12 goals and provided a further two assists - his best goal contribution tally in his career to date.
Up next for Gundogan, Guardiola and co is a huge Champions League semi-final double-header against French giants PSG, with the first-leg taking place on Wednesday night in Paris.
You can read the full conversation between The Players' Tribune and Gundogan here.
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