Pep Guardiola admits he would trade in his managerial achievements for a chance to play again at the top level.
The Manchester City boss, who turned 50 last month, has been one of the greatest managers of his generation, accumulating 29 trophies in a glittering career that has included spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Having recently renewed his contract until 2023, the Spaniard remains hungry for more success but he concedes life on the touchline cannot compare to how it feels on the field.
The former Barcelona captain said: “The pleasure for the players is incomparable – I would change right now to be a player.
“As a player you share it with your mates, the moments in the training session and the locker room.
“The manager has his staff and it is OK but you celebrate it in a different way. In the 90 minutes we can shout and move our arms but our influence is so minimal.
“I had the feeling when I had the ball at my feet that I could control the game, I can decide what is happening. Outside you cannot.
“The pleasure to play is incomparable to being a manager. It is a way to continue to be involved in this lovely game on the other side but I would change right now to have 20 years less and still play football.”
Guardiola won his 500th match since taking charge at Barcelona in 2008 as City beat Sheffield United on Saturday.
That victory was also a club record 12th in succession in all competitions for City and their eighth win in a row in the Premier League.
After a mixed start to the season, City – who have also kept clean sheets in 11 of their last 13 Premier League games – are now firmly established as the title favourites.
Yet with little turnaround between games in this condensed season, Guardiola says now is not the time to think about the wider picture, insisting his only focus is Wednesday’s trip to Burnley.
“Everything can change so quickly,” said Guardiola, whose side then travel to face champions Liverpool on Sunday. “Six weeks ago we were not contenders for anything, six weeks later we are contenders.
“We can drop five points in two games in three days. It has happened to other teams, so it can happen to you.
“All I am concerned about is Burnley, not the runs we have achieved, only Burnley. When you start to think about the next four, five or six fixtures you will drop points.”
City are still without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne due to a hamstring injury and record goalscorer Sergio Aguero after coronavirus.
Aguero has now been given the all-clear to return to training but Guardiola expects it to be some time yet before the Argentinian is back in action.
“He is still not training on the field,” said Guardiola of the striker who, due to injuries and then self-isolation, has been restricted to just three starts this season.
“He started to move a little yesterday but he will need a few weeks to come back.
“He is negative, this is the most important thing, he is healthy again and now he will come back again. As the top scorer it is important for us to have him back.”