After 10 years, 258 goals and five Premier League titles, the Argentine striker will play his last game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon
Sergio Aguero will walk out of the Etihad Stadium for the final time on Sunday, leaving as a Manchester City legend.
In truth, he had already earned that title in his first season for the club 10 years ago, when he delivered the most iconic moment in Premier League history.
His unforgettable strike two minutes before the end of the 2012 season was the most dramatic finish imaginable.
With City being held by relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers and deadly rivals Manchester United set to claim the title, Aguero coolly exchanged passes with Mario Balotelli before smashing in a winner on 93 minutes and 20 seconds that ended the club’s 44-year wait for championship glory and sent the stadium into delirium.
“It is the best memory that I will ever have in my head. I don’t think it will happen again in another country or in this one. It’s not something that can be repeated,” he said ahead of his final Premier League game against Everton.
“We won more titles after this one and those celebrations were great but the celebrations that year were different, very different.
“I remember that night we went with our families and everyone from the club to party. We were all still in shock. We were saying, ‘This is crazy – we just won the Premier League and in the last minute!’
“I think we celebrated for two days in a row with all of our families and everyone at the club. It was incredible. Every time we saw each other we would shout ‘Champions! Champions!’ We were just so happy. It was a unique moment – different to everything else.”
Rather than being the ultimate ending, it was only the start for Aguero, as he established himself as the greatest foreign striker to ever play in the Premier League.
His 182 goals from 274 matches makes him the fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, and number one among players born outside England, ahead of the great Thierry Henry, who ranks sixth overall.
Presently sitting just five goals behind Andy Cole, he would probably have surpassed the former Newcastle and Manchester United striker had his final season not been wrecked by injury. Aguero may have even challenged Alan Shearer for top spot had he matched the Englishman’s record of 441 appearances.
Indeed, Aguero has the best goal-per-minutes ratio in the history of the Premier League and scored 20 or more goals in six of his 10 seasons in England – a feat only bettered by Shearer, with seven.
The Argentina international did break the Englishman’s record for most hat-tricks, though, claiming 12 in total, and even once hitting five goals in a 6-1 victory over Newcastle in 2015, which has only been done by four other players.
In 2019, he also became the first player to score more than 27 goals in all competitions in six consecutive seasons of English football since Jimmy Greaves in the 1960s.
“Looking at the numbers it’s like ‘wow’,” Aguero admitted. “But, at the beginning, I didn’t think much about the numbers. Now, I feel so happy for what I have achieved at the club and the goals I have scored.
“They have won a lot of games. I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved. I will do my best so that I can leave on a high.”
More important than anything else, Aguero will depart as City’s greatest ever striker.
He broke the club’s 78‑year‑old goalscoring record with a typically clinical finish in a 4-2 Champions League victory away to Napoli to surpass Eric Brook’s, whose last appearance came days before the start of World War II.
That was Aguero’s 178th goal and he has since another 80 to set a benchmark that is unlikely to ever be broken..
Brook had been part of the first City team to become league champions in 1937 and while they were rather remarkably relegated the following season, Aguero’s first title was the start of the club’s golden era.
He has five titles in total, along with two FA Cup winner’s medals, six League Cup triumphs and three Community Shields to make him the most decorated player in the club’s history.
Happily, there will at least be some fans back in the Etihad for his final appearance on Sunday to give him the farewell he deserves.
“I am pretty sure the 10,000 fans that will be in the stadium will give him his tribute and express their gratitude for what he’s done for this club in terms of titles, numbers, performances – incredible,” City boss Pep Guardiola said ahead of Sunday’s game with Everton.
Just like his predecessors Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, Guardiola knows how lucky City have been to have such a phenomenal striker to call upon for the past decade.
In 2011, when it became clear that Aguero would be leaving Atletico Madrid, City were still striving to become the giants that they are now.
Despite winning the FA Cup months earlier and attracting the quality of David Silva and Yaya Toure to Manchester, the project aimed at transforming City into an English and European superpower was still in its infancy.
Real Madrid were expected to sign Aguero but the political difficulty involved in moving across the Spanish capital allowed City to snap him up for what proved a bargain £38 million ($54m).
Mancini never had any doubts about Aguero’s ability to score freely in England and made an immediate impact on his debut, with two goals and an assist after coming on in the 60th minute of a 4-0 victory over Swansea.
"Sergio is a photocopy of Romario, they are the same player," the Italian manager enthused. “He is going to be fantastic for us.”
There had been concerns about how Aguero would adjust to life in England. He was a notoriously bad trainer and had a poor diet away from the pitch, given his Argentinian penchant for red meat.
But he would come alive on the pitch, with his stocky frame, power, sharp speed and an instinct for goal making him unstoppable.
Aguero would then sweep away from the ground, without any fuss, pretending to have a poor grasp of English to avoid reporters’ questions. His wariness of the press was perhaps understandable.
He had been thrust into the spotlight as a 20-year-old when he married Gianinna, the youngest daughter of football icon Diego. At City, he was able to escape to his Cheshire home and could go out to restaurants in Manchester without being hassled.
“I have always felt respected, even by Manchester United fans,” he said. “I go out to eat and everyone always shows me a lot of respect.”
Sergio Aguero Pep Guardiola Man City GFX
Escaping the high life maybe didn’t help his profile while other foreign strikers such as Thierry Henry or Didier Drogba embraced their celebrity status.
While Henry won the FWA Footballer of the Year three times and Drogba was second twice, Aguero’s reticence has probably contributed to him being repeatedly overlooked during award season.
He has made plenty of headlines – a number of model girlfriends, a difficult relationship with ex-father-in-law Maradona and a taxi crash in Amsterdam two days before a big game meant he often found his way into the tabloid newspapers.
But he paid little attention to external pressure and concentrated on his football, spending time with his son Benjamin and a group of friends which included United keeper David de Gea, who helped him settle in the north west.
The arrival of Guardiola in 2016 was a major milestone in Aguero’s career, as some questioned at the time whether he could meet the Catalan’s demand for high-tempo pressing.
Aguero, though, adjusted perfectly, producing his most prolific campaign, with 33 goals in Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad. He also struck 30 and 32 times in the title-winning campaigns which immediately followed.
“He is different to the other managers I have had at City,” Aguero explained. “I think I became a better player and goalscorer under him because he likes his team to dominate the ball.
“This is fundamental for any striker; to have chances and contact with the ball – that’s what it’s about.”
But a frustrating final year, in which he has made just 11 Premier League appearances, has meant Guardiola took the difficult decision to allow Aguero to leave at the end of the season.
Spanish giants Barcelona are favourites to sign him, so Aguero’s career is far from over. But it will nonetheless be an emotional moment on Sunday when he becomes the last of the 2012 title-winning team to bid farewell to the fans.
“I don’t want them just to remember me for the goal I scored against QPR, but I want them to remember all my best moments in important games,” said Aguero, who will be honoured with a statue outside the Etihad.
“I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans. When you feel the love from your fans everything is a lot easier.
"It’s the same for anyone in any line of work; when someone believes in you, you do better. I owe a lot to the people at this club because I have the City fans to thank for everything.”