Pep Guardiola acknowledged he was among those who doubted David Silva would be a success at Manchester City as he lauded the midfielder's "just incredible" longevity. City captain Silva is set to make his 400th appearance for the club against Bournemouth on Sunday, having joined from Valencia in 2010.
The Spaniard has played a part in four Premier League title wins, yet, to many, his diminutive stature and silky skills did not appear a good fit for English football. This was put to Guardiola in Friday's pre-match news conference and the City boss interjected to say he had similarly thought Silva might struggle before being proven spectacularly wrong.
"Yep, me included [in those who thought Silva would struggle]," he said. "I think it's his character. It's not just his quality to move in small spaces, it's that he's a huge competitor. In the training sessions, the games, in the bad moments, how he reacts, he is a huge competitor."
"For his specific qualities to survive in the Premier League is not easy for a long time. And he did it. He has to be so proud of himself and what he has done. He's a technical player - he's not a box-to-box - and my image of English football from the outside was that maybe he's going to falter. But I was happily, happily wrong."
"That was my first impression, but from the beginning - it's not just that David played well this season - he was playing good with other managers, Roberto [Mancini], Manuel [Pellegrini], with us. After I spoke with managers he had in Spain, what everybody speaks, I realised what I realised here. Everybody knows about his quality with the ball, but he's more than that. He's incredible."
"He is a competitor, a winner. Four Premier Leagues he won, and a lot of domestic prizes. This generation of players - like Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero - helped to make this club in a better position in the Premier League and in European competition."
Discussing his appearance milestone, Guardiola said of Silva: "I admire a lot. What I admire the most is when you look at these records or numbers. To do 400 games means many years, many bad moments, many good moments, being there day by day, week by week."
"I admire that a lot. You can have a good year, a good season, but almost 10 seasons here doing that is just incredible. Big congratulations. For the City supporters - me included - it is a privilege what he has done at this club. Hopefully in the last season he is going to be here, he can help us to achieve."
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