Toni Duggan follows in the footsteps of Gary Lineker in Barcelona

Barcelona forward Toni Duggan returns to Manchester on Sunday one year after leaving City

Barcelona and England forward Toni Duggan returns to Manchester on Sunday afternoon just a year after becoming the first English player to join the Catalan club since Gary Lineker.

The Manchester City women's team will face their Barcelona counterparts at Academy Stadium and Duggan will be the star attraction after spending three years with City winning the FA Women's Super League before leaving.

"I really want to see my former teammates in the field, but also the people who work in the club, I really did not have the opportunity to say goodbye because when I left last year it was the European Championship and then I went directly to Barcelona, ​​"he says.

Barcelona forward Toni Duggan returns to Manchester on Sunday one year after leaving City

Barcelona forward Toni Duggan returns to Manchester on Sunday one year after leaving City

"It will be nice to see the people: the staff of the academy, the staff of the first team, the people who work in the reception or in the canteen".

Duggan made history with that movement last year. And more history was made this summer when it became part of the first combined tour of men and women of the Barcelona team in the US. UU

"It was one of the best experiences I had in football," he says of the visit to Portland and Los Angeles.

The women flew to the other side of the Atlantic with Lionel Messi and his company, they stayed in the same hotel and trained in the same courts while Barcelona continued to show how seriously they take the women's game. His big rivals in Spain, Real Madrid, still do not have a female team.

"It was my birthday while I was there and my sponsor Nike brought me a cake, the president of Barcelona wished me a happy birthday and made me feel very special," he says.

"Sometimes, in a big club like this, women's teams can be outdone, but everyone knew who I was, it was my birthday and they knew what games we came in. But that's the feeling you get from the club. it is only a late occurrence.

Duggan will be the star attraction after spending three years in the Women's Super League of the winning City

Duggan will be the star attraction after spending three years in the Women's Super League of the winning City

Duggan will be the star attraction after spending three years in the Women's Super League of the winning City

He even met Julia Roberts on the tour. "I was a bit cheeky sitting in the stands with the girls watching the men's team supporting them against Tottenham and I saw on Twitter that she was in the game.

"The president was a couple of boxes with Luis Garcia, who now works for the club, and I've seen him leave the bathroom and said:" Where is Julia Roberts? "He said:" Come on, I'll do it. "Take you." And poor Luis Garcia had to take all the pictures when we posed with her. I think in the end he managed to get one too.

The encounter with the former Liverpool midfielder seemed to have left an impression as lasting as that of meeting the actress of "Pretty Woman" Roberts. "He was very kind," she says. "It's the first time I met him and, obviously, as a Liverpool fan, it's huge." We chatted about Istanbul and I sang his song, of course, about Luis Garcia drinking sangria, and he was one of the nicest people I've met in football. He came to see our friends in the USA. UU With Eric Abidal. Abidal was also very kind. That's the club, they really support the women's team. "

Barcelona's commitment to women's soccer inspired her signing for Duggan in 2017. She helped them win the Spanish Cup last season, but they were runners-up in the league and fell into the quarter-final phase of the Champions League.

The male and female teams of Barça toured EE. UU This summer and she received a birthday cake

The male and female teams of Barça toured EE. UU This summer and she received a birthday cake

The male and female teams of Barça toured EE. UU This summer and she received a birthday cake

She is confident that the second season will be even better than the first and believes that the striker's natural selfishness will come to light more this season for the good of the team.

She says: "I helped the team with the goals of last season, but I know I can do much better.

"It was a mixture of relief and excitement at the end of the campaign, we won the trophy at the end of winning the Cup, but there was the disappointment of missing the league by one point.

"But all the people I spoke with said that the first year would be the hardest, I loved it, but I was trying to concentrate on my football while trying to learn the language and settle down in a new home.

"But in these first two weeks of this preseason I felt a lot better." And I understand what people tell me. Coaches tend to speak to me in Spanish now.

Duggan met actress Julia Roberts on the tour

Duggan met actress Julia Roberts on the tour

In addition to former Liverpool midfielder Luis García

In addition to former Liverpool midfielder Luis García

Duggan met actress Julia Roberts (L) on tour and former Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia (R)

& # 39; Every once in a while I'll have to ask what they want to say. I thought that the coach the other day was asking me to fall deeper and I could not understand it because I thought it was deep but I wanted to say louder. Sometimes the assistant still has to help. But I grew as a player and as a person during last season and that will only continue. "

Barça have signed four new players who hope to go back in their quest to win the Champions League. Last season they were unlucky enough to be eliminated by eventual winners of Lyon in the quarterfinals, but they signed French midfielder Kheira Hamraoui and Stefanie Van der Gragt of Ajax.

"It was good to travel with the men on the tour, but it was also important for us to be together and bond with the new signings," says Duggan. "We have a good atmosphere in the group."

Duggan helped Barça win the Spanish Cup last season, but they were runners-up in the league

Duggan helped Barça win the Spanish Cup last season, but they were runners-up in the league

Duggan helped Barça win the Spanish Cup last season, but they were runners-up in the league

She is very aware of what is required in the field. "We have to be a bit more implacable, both me and the team in general." In the first two thirds we are the best team I have seen in terms of keeping the ball, but in that last third we have to be more ruthless, put the games in bed and build that winning mentality that can then take in those really great games in the Champions League against Lyon, City and Chelsea.

"We have shown that we can play at that level, but we do not want to compete, we want to win."

Sunday will be about being competitive as fitness levels will be refined before the start of the season next month. But it's also about seeing old friends.

With the men's team at Arsenal, there will be no opportunity to speak with Brian Kidd, who sent him a message of good luck when he left 12 months ago. But he will come face to face with his teammates with whom he won the league two years ago.

He hopes it is not the last meeting with City this season: a rematch in the Champions League or, preferably, in the final would mean a very successful campaign for his previous and current clubs.

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