Nathan Ake Is the Manchester City Defender In the Form of His Life
Hypebeast caught up with Ake to speak about his brand-new campaign for Nike’s SS23 underwear collection, his football career so far, and much more.
Nathan Ake is currently playing some of the best football of his career.
The Manchester City and Netherlands defender has been a staple figure in Pep Guardiola’s Premier League-winning side this season, cementing his place in a star-studded squad that acquired the former Chelsea and Bournemouth defender in 2020. However, his journey to making his way to the pinnacle of English and international football hasn’t been easy.
Ake made his move to England to play the beautiful game in 2010 at age 15, joining Chelsea FC’s youth system from one of his boyhood clubs, Feyenoord. And while his talent was quickly recognized by Chelsea coaches, the saturated pool of top-quality talent made it hard for the baller – and others, such as Kevin De Bruyne – to make a real mark on the team at the time.
With this being said, Ake then enjoyed a series of loan moves, first moving to Championship side Reading in 2015, before joining newly-promoted Watford a year later. Then, Ake made a career-defining loan move to Bournemouth a year later, where he quickly solidified his position at the heart of the defense, thus bringing him a full contract, one that showcased his skills throughout the top flight for three years, before Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City came knocking.
Today, Nathan Ake is in the form of his life and appears to be the complete package for a modern-day defender – one that needs to be more technically aware than most when playing for a Guardiola side. However, with two Premier League titles to his name since joining the current champions, Ake is hungrier than ever, both at club and international levels. “I want to win as much as I can. Winning with the national team would be amazing and is something you always dream of as a kid and player,” Ake told Hypebeast.
Ake’s rise to the top of the game has now been recognised by
How are you enjoying your football this season?
It’s been going very well. I’ve been playing a lot of games and we are still in a good position to hopefully win something. The last few months will prove to be defining for myself and the team.
This season you have had an amazing individual performance, what do you think this is down to and have you done anything differently to previous years?
I think it’s down to playing a lot of games. I started the season well and got into a good rhythm which brings confidence. Consistency is key with every game you start to grow and become comfortable. We are in good form and I am enjoying every second of it. Nothing has really changed from last season but I had a low point and it’s taken a while to build that confidence back up.
“We have top players in every position so you need to perform week in week out otherwise some players will take your spot.”
You have been praised for your versatility as of late after playing in several positions. Do you have a preferred position you like to play?
I’m probably most comfortable at center back, but I’ve been playing more as a left back this season which I also really enjoy. The way we play it’s a combination of both anyway and you have to be versatile. I know what the manager expects of me and I love it.
It’s a close challenge at the top of the table, what are your predictions for the rest of the season?
It’s very close, Arsenal has been amazing this season, they are a very good team and it will be going to the wire. Both teams [Manchester City and Arsenal] are playing great football and we can only focus on ourselves, winning every game and they will be doing the same. We still have 5 points to catch up and play them once at home so that is a must-win.
“Consistency is key and with every game you start to grow and become comfortable.”
What’s your training essential?
For gym work, training, and games I always wear Nike underwear and the underlayers. They fit really nicely and are more freeing than the others I’ve tried. They help me to get the most out of my workouts and my performance on game days.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Winning trophies is of course up there – winning the Premier League. Playing in the World Cup is huge, it’s an honor to play for the Netherlands and represent your country. To do that this season was a big highlight for sure.
Who is the best player you have played with?
This is really difficult. I’ve played with a lot of very good players. At Chelsea I played with Drogba, Hazard, Terry, and Lampard, they were top of their game and now I play with Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. so it’s difficult to say one. I’m going to put all those names up there.
With that being said, who is the best player you have played against?
Firmino was always a tough one because he could do everything – cuts in, drops deep, very good with the ball. Lately, as I’ve been playing at left back, players like Saka & Salah are very difficult as well.
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In each transfer window, Manchester City tends to bring in at least one big and talented name. As a player, does that keep you on your toes, knowing that you need to keep performing at the highest level every week?
We have top players in every position so you need to perform week in week out otherwise some players will take your spot. It’s not just the transfers coming in, but the level of player we have in the squad. It helps though, increasing the pressure to make sure you are playing at the top of your game.
Going forward, what other career goals do you have, being that a football career is a very short one?
I want to win as much as I can. Winning with the national team would be amazing and is something you always dream of as a kid and player. We played okay at the last World Cup but we can do better as we have a great team, so that is for sure a goal in the future.
You can take a closer look at Nathan Ake’s new Nike campaign above and the full collection is available to shop now via the official Nike website.