Pep Guardiola says managing against Vincent Kompany makes him feel old as the Manchester City manager prepares to face his former captain, now in charge of Burnley, in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Kompany, who left City after more than a decade’s service in 2019, has made a huge impact since taking charge of second-tier Burnley last year.
“He was an incredible figure here,” said Guardiola, 52, whose club hosts the Championship side on Saturday. “He is one of the biggest legends I have had.
“On the other side, I’m concerned because when you start to play a game and the opponent on the touchline is a player that you had, you realise how old you are becoming.
“That is a little bit frustrating, but it’s nice to see him. He wants to win, we want to win, and we will take it seriously.”
Kompany lifted the Premier League trophy four times during a glittering career with City in which he also won two FA Cups and four League Cups.
He was an inspirational leader and remained highly influential even in his latter years at the club, when his game time was often limited by injury.
Spanish boss Guardiola, who took charge at City in 2016, also said Friday: “I have one little pity that he was injured for a lot of time when we were together, but the important thing was from day one how he helped me.
“I arrived here from another country, I didn’t know the Premier League and he used to make a step forward in the locker room in the bad moments to help the team, and personally to me say the things he believed was best for the club.
“He was an exceptional captain, a top human being, and I’m really pleased (for him).”
Kompany, 36, who began his management career at Anderlecht, is on course for a return to the Premier League with Burnley.
His Clarets side are 13 points clear of Sheffield United at the top of the Championship with a further six-point buffer over third-placed Middlesbrough.
Guardiola said: “From what I have seen, I’m not surprised at all with their position or what they have done in the Championship.
“Being so close to being a Premier League team next year, seeing more carefully what they do, I understand completely. They will be a really tough opponent because they do incredible things on the pitch.”
Guardiola said after the draw for the last eight was made that he saw Kompany as a potential successor at City.
“Maybe he won’t agree with me but, after seeing his teams, I’m more than convinced he is going to come back,” said Guardiola. “I don’t know when, but it is going to happen.”