Moments of Magic #10 – Georgi Kinkladze

by Neil Sherwin

Moments of Magic heads back to 1996 this week to look at a great solo effort which lit up a disappointing season for the blue half of Manchester.

#10 Georgi Kinkladze v Southampton, 1996

When Georgi Kinkladze arrived at Maine Road in the summer of 1995 for a fee of around £2 million, many Manchester City fans were left scratching their heads wondering who this 22 year year old pint sized player actually was.

Three years later, as he departed for Ajax, ‘Kinky’ had etched his name in the club’s folklore and become a firm fans’ favourite following numerous scintillating displays in the sky blue shirt.

Kinkladze first came to City’s attention when then-chairman Francis Lee was shown a video of the midfielder in action, and his talent was confirmed a couple of months later when he was the catalyst as Georgia destroyed Wales 5-0 in a European Championship qualifier.

He signed in July 1995 and became an instant hero, despite playing in a poor side that was struggling in the Premier League.

After a slow start, Kinkladze scored his first goal for City against Aston Villa, and his superb performance away to Middlesbrough shortly afterwards saw him voted the ‘Best Opposing Player’ to play at the Riverside that season.

The highlight of his season, and probably City’s as well, came at home to Southampton.

Kinkladze picked the ball up around halfway and dribbled his way deep into the Saints half, waltzing through challenges and displaying exceptional close control.

He beat five players in total then calmly waited for goalkeeper Dave Beasant to go to ground before lifting the ball neatly over him into the net.

The goal was voted ‘Goal of the Month’ by BBC’s Match of the Day programme, and also came runner up in the ‘Goal of the Season’ competition.

City were relegated that year, but Kinkladze picked up the ‘Player of the Season’ award.

His dazzling displays continued in Division 1, albeit less frequently due to injuries and Joe Royle’s view that he was nothing more than a luxury player.

Eventually Kinky left City in 1998 following the club’s relegation to Division 2, and he moved to Ajax for around £5 million.

Kinkladze later returned to the Premiership with Derby County before finishing his career in Russia with Rubin Kazan.

He still makes visits back to Manchester City where he is as well received now by the fans as he was back in his mid-90s heyday.

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