“Yaya, you know you could be a coach,” a manager once told me.
“What?” I replied. I was confused. I’d never considered coaching before.
“I just want to play,” I said.
At the time, I was sure of it. I wanted to finish my playing career properly. But those words sparked something in me, when it had never previously crossed my mind.
I wasn’t ready at the time. I wasn’t ready because I wanted to carry on playing, but also because I knew then – and know now – that I couldn’t have coached at that age. I was so shocked! I still had so much to learn.
At Manchester City, Pep Guardiola and I used to talk after training about specific things, parts of the game that he loved to analyse. He saw that I understood the game. Sometimes I would also speak with the chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, too. He agreed I should consider becoming a coach.
Up until then, I just thought I was thinking about how I was playing in a deeper way. I didn’t really realise I was thinking like a coach.