Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany has discussed former teammate Kevin De Bruyne’s rise to the top, despite having made an initial poor impression on his international colleague.
Belgium international De Bruyne was rightfully named as the PFA Player of the Year this week following a remarkable season which saw him equal Thierry Henry’s assist record, while also recording a league-high 33 Premier League goal involvements.
That recognition is a marker of the exceptional quality that the 29-year-old has produced in the English top-flight since his arrival at Man City in 2015, the midfielder going on to win two league titles with the club.
However, despite his breathtaking form since, the former Chelsea playmaker surprisingly did not make a good first impression on compatriot Kompany on his first call up to the national team a decade ago.
“He came into the national team when he was very, very young and at the time he really didn’t leave a good impression with me,” said Kompany, as per the Mirror.
“I thought he just seemed to moan a lot, he tried a lot of things that weren’t coming off at that time when he came and I said it’s a shame, because we could have done with some more talent in the team.
“Anyway, as time went by and then things happened, all of a sudden, before you knew it, he’s the best player we have. I knew it all the time!
“He has an edge, and that’s maybe where, in his first session with the national team, way back when he was 18, was maybe the thing that didn’t come across so well.
“It was because he has an edge, and then he didn’t perform on the pitch, and you’re like ‘well you have an edge and you don’t perform, what’s that all about?’
“But later on you realise that’s his true strength, you know. He has an edge in everything he does and he’s got a bit of a mean streak about him as well, where he doesn’t mind getting physical.
“To get the best out of Kevin, you need to play in a certain way. You never get the best out of Kevin if you aren’t an attacking-minded team, and I mean in attacking in every way – pressing, possession, tacking.
“So in terms of Kevin coming to City, and Kevin meeting Pep, really, their paths crossing was the perfect blend for him.
“I don’t think he would have ever have got the most out of his career, unless he had worked with Pep.”