Roberto Mancini has put local rivalry to one side and extended his congratulations to Manchester United for reaching their third Champions League final in four years.
Mancini’s Manchester City side are hoping to accompany the Red Devils into Europe’s premier club competition next term.
The Italian already knows the exacting standards required, having been part of the Sampdoria team defeated by Barcelona in the last Wembley final in 1992.
And he has nothing but admiration for United’s achievements, even if he feels they face a stern test on May 28 against Barcelona, the team he currently regards as the best in the world.
“I say congratulations to Manchester United,” he said. “It is a final and it is impossible to know what the result will be.
“Barcelona have probably played the best football in the world for many years. But Manchester United are a very strong team, probably one of the best three or four in Europe along with Real Madrid and Chelsea.”
Mancini’s own day at the highest stage ended in disappointment when Ronald Koeman’s extra-time goal condemned Sampdoria to defeat.
However, almost two decades on, the memories make him smile.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Mancini. “We lost the game in extra time but this is football. In a final, anything can happen.”