Manchester City star defender Ruben Dias has opened up on his first year at the club, in which time he has won Premier League and reached the Champions League final.
Dias was recognised for a standout campaign in 2020/21 by the Football Writers’ Association, who voted the Portugal international their player of the season, ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane.
Since arriving from Benfica, the 24-year-old carried the same suitability for leadership in central defence that City fans thought they had lost with the departure of Vincent Kompany. He is now understood to be behind Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan in the captain pecking order.
Dias’ attitude is a testament to the mature head on his young shoulders, developing into a world-class centre-half despite his relative inexperience.
Dias’ outstanding first campaign in City blue was rewarded with a well-deserved six-year contract, tying him down to the Etihad until 2027.
Speaking to City’s in-house media, Dias was asked about his dedicated approach to the game and explained how immersing himself in the centre of the city has helped him settle.
“I think it is a very personal question. I don’t judge any other way of seeing it. It is just my way,” Dias said. “It is the one I believe, the one that makes me feel good, the one that makes my body work.
“I don’t judge whoever comes in and just goes to the spa and just trains and goes home. If they feel good and feel they can reach their level, do it.
“People have spoken a little bit about my routines, and those are the ones that make me feel good. It is all about how you feel and how you find your way to do it.”
Despite a challenging year affected by several COVID-19 lockdowns limiting opportunities to travel around Manchester, Dias was keen to take advantage of opportunities when available, balancing his extraordinary exploits on the field with seeing his new city when opportunities presented themselves.
“I live in the city centre,” Dias explains. “It is the place to work and the place to play football. I love it.
“I am not getting fast experiences because when I came, it was almost like the same as being in Portugal because I was just closed at home.
“Now (with restrictions having been eased somewhat), I am watching a little bit more life.”
Last season made the process easier for Dias, who could stick his teeth into a tricky start where the Blues struggled to find their best form before the turn of the year. The defender was well aware of the difficulty in winning England’s top flight, having watched keenly back home.
“Knowing that in any game, anything can happen because of football,” Dias reflected.
“Because everyone can be good, the referees, everything. They will go for the game, let you play, and the best will win. That is something that was in my mind a lot.
“I have watched the Premier League for ages and especially when I came, one thing that was in my mind is that whoever wins it, they deserve it.
“There is no chance of someone winning it that doesn’t deserve it. You play against the best; you play to win. You don’t play just to not concede.
“That is the beauty of it.”