Georgi Kinkladze is regarded as one of the greatest Georgians to have ever played football and is also fondly remembered by Manchester City fans.
Despite all the millions and star names that have played for Man City over the last few years there is a still a contingent of their fans that think Kinkladze is the best player to have worn a City shirt..
Kinkladze began his career at Mretebi Tbilisi aged just 16 and quickly became a first team regular and was an important player as they gained promotion in 1991. This helped convince Dinamo Tbilisi to sign the midfielder and in his first season he won the league and cup double. However, due to civil war in his country he had to leave and joined FC Saarbrucken in Germany. He never really settled there and only played 11 league games.
After trials at Atletico Madrid and Boca Juniors, Manchester City decided to take a chance on him in 1995. After a slightly difficult start to life in England, he became the star player of a struggling side and would go on to score some wonderful goals, including one against Southampton in which he beat five players and then chipped the keeper.
Despite his performances the club were relegated to Division One and it looked as though Kinkladze would get a move, however he decided to stay and even though he won the Player of the Year award for a second season he could not guide them to promotion. Things got even worse as manager Joe Royle dropped him a lot and they were relegated to Division Two.
This meant after 119 appearances and 22 goals it was time for him to move on. He signed for Ajax but this move didn’t work out well as he only played 12 league games in his first season and was told to find a new club. He returned to England and signed for Derby County. Once again he proved a divisive figure, sometimes showing amazing quality, whereas other times looking a little lost. At the end of the 2001-02 season he endured the third relegation of his career.
With Derby struggling financially they tried to get rid of Kinkladze but he stayed and put in some good performances and was named the Supporters Player of the Year. At the end of his contract he was offered a new deal but declined it and joined Cypriot side Anorthosis and somewhat remarkably they won the title with Kinkladze scoring two goals.
Ater just one season he signed for Rubin Kazan. He began brilliantly scoring twice and setting up a further seven in his first nine games. However, an injury at the start of the following campaign meant he never played a professional game again.
The final word can go to John Gregory. “He’s an inspirational player. The rest of the team are probably his biggest fan, they appreciate he not only has great quality but he rolls his sleeves up and works hard.”