By Agence France-Presse
Aymeric Laporte hailed the influence of Vincent Kompany after Manchester City’s inspirational captain struck a stunning winner in the critical Premier League clash with Leicester.
The long-serving defender once again proved the man for the big occasion as he netted with a ferocious long-range strike 20 minutes from time to settle a tense encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Monday.
The 1-0 win lifted treble-chasing City back to the top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Liverpool, with just one game remaining in a gripping title race.
Kompany’s decisive contribution ranked alongside his vital winner against rivals Manchester United during the 2012 title run-in for importance.
Fitness issues may mean the 33-year-old is no longer a regular starter but the influence of the three-time title-winning skipper shows no sign of waning even though he admits his future is uncertain.
“It is amazing, unbelievable,” said fellow central defender Laporte. “I never see one goal like that — maybe because I wasn’t on the pitch, I don’t know — but we are so satisfied with this game.
“He is a guy (who is) very important for us, for the club. I think he gives us a lot of things. He is an example for us.
“We have to improve and keep working with him because he can give a lot and he is a very good guy on and off the pitch.”
Kompany’s sensational strike came as City piled on the pressure in the second half, knowing anything less than a 13th successive league win would hand the initiative to Liverpool heading into the final fixtures.
They now know victory over Brighton on Sunday will see them become the first back-to-back title winners in a decade, regardless of how Liverpool fare against Wolves.
Laporte said: “We are focused on us. It is the most important. We have to win every single game and if we win the next game, we are the champions.”
Kompany, whose contract is up in the summer, shed a few tears as he set out on the end-of-season lap of honour ahead of his teammates, but does not want to retire.
“I do not know at this point,” Kompany told Sky Sports when asked about his future after the match.
Asked if he will retire, the Belgian said: “Absolutely not. I am going to play.”
Guardiola’s regard for Kompany’s experience has been clear in recent weeks, with the veteran selected for each of the past three league games, against Manchester United, Burnley and Leicester, with their title hopes on the line.
But the City boss was equally non-committal on Kompany’s future.
“At the end of the season we are going to talk to him,” said Guardiola on whether Kompany will be handed a new deal.
“He is an incredible human being. He helped me a lot since I’ve been here. Always we can count on him for his personality.”