Vincent Kompany has praised Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for showing a “touch of class” and supporting his initiatives to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
Kompany, Manchester City’s long-serving and inspirational captain, is using his testimonial season at the Etihad Stadium to launch and promote a new homelessness charity, Tackle4MCR.
Working alongside Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Kompany wants to help deal with what is an increasing problem in a city that has grown close to his heart.
On Monday the Belgian hosted a fundraising gala dinner that was attended by a number of his City team-mates as well as players and coaching staff from arch-rivals Manchester United, including interim manager Solskjaer.
Kompany told Press Association Sport: “I think Mike Phelan and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being here is an incredible touch of class.
“I can tell you, there is no game in the world I want to win more than when we play a derby.
“But if we can come together for bigger issues – and we all know how powerful both clubs are now in the city of Manchester – then I think we multiply the strength of both clubs by an amount that is phenomenal.
“The fact we have Manchester United representatives in the room to deal with homelessness, it’s an incredible plus for everything we are going to try to achieve for the future.”
Kompany hopes the event can pave the way for further close co-operation between the clubs.
The 32-year-old said: “I think it will go both ways. That’s how cultures are set. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing it now and I am sure in the future people from Manchester City will be happy to come together to help any other issues that we can deal with.
“For the region it is incredible what these two clubs have been able to do.
“But there are a whole number of other important issues to deal with and we have such power, not just in terms of wealth, but in terms of brands and communication, and there is no reason why we should not have a joint agenda on certain things.
“Today Manchester United have done something exceptional by coming to such a blue area and being a part of it for the greater good, and that sets a precedent for future things to happen as well.”
Manchester has become Kompany’s adopted home since he joined City from Hamburg in 2008 and the increasing number of rough sleepers in and around the city centre is something he has noticed. Having grown an affinity with the area it is a problem he felt compelled to act upon.
He said: “I think there is no real way to explain to your children when you are trying to raise them in a proper way that you have been so close to this and haven’t tried everything you can do to help tackle this issue.
“I can’t solve it on my own, nor can any other individual, but if we come together and raise this project together than we have a chance.
“The pre-conceived ideas are sometimes dangerous with the issue of homelessness. We usually look at the streets and only see the result. We don’t see the cause and we confuse the result with being the cause.
“In reality they are just, mostly, very normal people who sometimes have just had a tough time, like we all have, and have been unlucky. They haven’t had the support network and have ended up on the street for one day, two days and before they know it they are on the streets for years.
“I feel passionate about this and the fact people can fall off the grid without us noticing.”
Kompany believes he can make a difference because of his profile, which can bring media attention and therefore help raise funding.
He said: “I will help in those two ways. Those who are already doing it are not necessarily asking me to go and help them on the street every single day, they are not asking me to go and listen to the stories every day.
“What they are asking for is resources, support and funding. That’s my role to play at this point and I want to play to the fullest.”
Kompany’s passion is in part driven by his love of Manchester.
He said: “This place is special to me. As I signed for this club I never knew what to expect. It was a new phase in my life and I came from a very difficult period where I lost my mother. Personally it was a difficult period.
“But as soon as I met people who didn’t know who I was, who didn’t know I was a footballer and were just trying to help me, trying make it comfortable and be happy in their city – from then this place just became a part of me. I have never looked back.
“I married a local girl and have kids who identify themselves as Mancunians – to the point where it is a bit too much, because they are also from Brussels! This place is forever with me now and there is nothing I can do about it.”
Those attending Monday’s event also included Kompany’s former City team-mates Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart as well as former world boxing champion Ricky Hatton. There were also celebrities from the worlds of TV and music, including former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher, who was due to perform a set.
Speaking as he arrived, Solskjaer said: “Tonight is about raising money to help the people who are sleeping rough. I have been in Manchester a couple of months, living in the city centre and seen so many people sleeping over. It is something we can all help out with.”
City manager Pep Guardiola said: “This shows who is Vincent. He is a good example for all of us and future generations.”