Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium, a Complete Footballer and best midfielder in the world | Sunday Observer

Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium, a Complete Footballer and best midfielder in the world

26 March, 2023
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne is a professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for the Belgium team and Premier League club Manchester City. He is often described as a “Complete Footballer” for his talent all around the field and widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.

De Bruyne made his international debut in 2010, and he has since earned over 90 caps and scored 25 goals for Belgium. He was a member of the Belgian squads that reached the quarter-finals both at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and at UEFA Euro 2016. He stood for Belgium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where Belgium won the third-place play-off match against England, and was named in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team.

In the summer of 2015, De Bruyne joined Manchester City for a club record of £54 million. He has since won four Premier League titles, five League Cups and an FA Cup with the club. In 2017/18 he had a significant role in Manchester City’s record in becoming the only Premier League team to attain 100 points in a single season. In 2019/20, De Bruyne equalled the record for most assists in a Premier League season and was awarded Player of the Season.

De Bruyne has been named in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season and IFFHS Men’s World Team five times each, the FIFA FIFPRO World 11, UEFA Team of the Year and ESM Team of the Year three times each, the France Football World XI, and the Bundesliga Team of the Year.

He has also won the Premier League Playmaker of the Season twice, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice, Manchester City’s Player of the Year four times, the UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season, the Bundesliga Player of the Year, the Footballer of the Year (Germany), the Belgian Sportsman of the Year and the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker twice.

Player Profile

De Bruyne is a versatile and incredibly talented player. In 2020, his Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described him as the best midfielder in the world.

He plays mainly as a central or an attacking midfielder but can also operate in several other positions and has been used as a winger or second striker. He has even been deployed in a deeper creative midfield position and on occasion, a box-to-box role or as a false 9.

He is often described as one of the best and most complete modern day advanced playmakers due to his technique, skill, athleticism, work-rate off the ball, vision, crossing accuracy, wide range of passing, and powerful long-range shooting ability with either foot.

Although he is not blessed with significant physical strength, pace, or ability in the air, he is a quick and elegant player on the ball with good dribbling skills, while his positional sense, tactical intelligence, movement, direct style of play and ability to run at defences, enable him to take advantage of spaces in the opposition’s defence.

He creates chances and goal scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, making him a dangerous offensive threat on counter-attacks. He is also capable of scoring goals by making late runs off the ball from behind into the penalty area and is a correct set-piece taker.

Personal Life

De Bruyne was born on June 28, 1991 in Burundi and has also lived in the Ivory Coast. His hometown Drongen is a sub municipality of the city of Ghent, in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Aside from his mother tongue Dutch, De Bruyne also speaks French, English, and German.

Since 2014, De Bruyne has been in a relationship with Michele Lacroix. The couple married in June 2017, and have three children - two sons and one daughter. His autobiography, titled “Keep It Simple,” was published by Borgerhoff & Lamberigts in October 2014.

De Bruyne was an ambassador for the 2014 Special Olympics in Antwerp, and was involved in a controversial advertisement campaign, via his personal Instagram. Employing the slogan: “Would you still be my fan if I looked like this?”, De Bruyne was depicted resembling a person with Down syndrome.

International Career

De Bruyne was capped by Belgium at under-18, under-19, and under-21 level. He made his debut for the Belgium senior team on August 11, 2010 in an international friendly against Finland in Turkuin a 1–0 loss. Before making his full debut for Belgium’s senior side, De Bruyne was eligible to play for Burundi, his mother’s birthplace.

De Bruyne became a regular member of Belgium’s team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, where he scored four goals as the Red Devils qualified for their first major tournament in 12 years.

He was named in Belgium’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In their first game of the tournament, against Algeria in Belo Horizonte, De Bruyne assisted Marouane Fellaini’s equaliser and was named Man of the Match by FIFA. In the round of 16, De Bruyne scored Belgium’s opening goal in the third minute of extra time as they defeated the United States 2–1.

On October 10, 2014, De Bruyne scored twice in a 6–0 rout of Andorra in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying, equalling the team’s record victory in a European qualifier set in 1986. On September 3, 2015, De Bruyne scored in a 3–1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. On October 10, he scored in a 4–1 win over Andorra, which secured Belgium’s place at the UEFA Euro 2016 finals.

Three days later, he scored in a 3–1 win over Israel, securing Belgium top-spot in the group. He was in Belgium’s squad for UEFA Euro 2016. On June 18, De Bruyne was praised for his performance in Belgium’s 3–0 win over the Republic of Ireland. On June 26, he was voted BBC Man of the Match for his performance in a 4–0 win over Hungary.

2018 FIFA World Cup

De Bruyne was in Belgium’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. On June 18, in the opening game against debutants Panama, De Bruyne provided an assist in an eventual 3–0 win. On July 6, he scored the second goal of the match in a 2–1 quarter-final victory over Brazil and was named the Man of the Match. In the semi-finals, Belgium was defeated 1–0 by eventual champions France. On July 14, Belgium defeated England 2–0 in the third-place play-off.

On June 17, 2021, De Bruyne scored his first and the winning goal in Belgium’s second match of UEFA Euro 2020, a 2–1 win over Denmark. During the round of 16 clash with Portugal, De Bruyne suffered an injury. On July 2, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said that De Bruyne could recover and play in the quarter-final match.

2022 FIFA World Cup

At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Belgium was forced an early exit. However, it isn’t the end of the road for De Bruyne.

He will get another chance to make his mark at the 2024 Euro and 2026 FIFA World Cup and could take inspiration from Lionel Messi’s Argentina, which were one of the oldest squads in terms of average age. Nothing less than a triumph will suffice for Belgium in either of the tournaments and that could arguably seal De Bruyne’s legacy.

Club Career

De Bruyne began his career with hometown club KVV Drongen in 1997. Two years later, he joined Gent and moved to Genk in 2005. De Bruyne was rewarded for his progress by being promoted to the first team in 2008.

De Bruyne made his debut for Genk on May 9, 2009. He scored his first goal for the club on February 7, 2010. His five goals and 16 assists in 32 league matches during the 2010/11 season enabled Genk to become Belgian champions.

On October 29, 2011, De Bruyne scored his first hat-trick for Genk against Club Brugge in a 5–4 win. On February 18, 2012, De Bruyne scored his first goal for Genk in a 2–1 away win against Mons to end the season with eight goals from 28 appearances.

In 2012, Premier League club Chelsea and Genk announced the permanent signing of De Bruyne, with the fee to be in the region of £7 million. He signed a five-and-a-half-year contract and made his debut for Chelsea on July 18, 2012, in a friendly against Seattle Sounders FC in a 4–2 win.

On July 31, 2012, De Bruyne joined Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on a season-long loan deal and scored his first goal for Bremen in a 3–2 defeat to Hannover 96.After a successful loan spell, De Bruyne returned to Chelsea on July 1, 2013.

On January 18, 2014, Wolfsburg signed De Bruyne for a fee of £18 million. On January 25, he made his debut for Wolfsburg in a 3–1 home loss against Hannover 96. In April 2014, De Bruyne scored his first goal for Wolfsburg in 3–1 away win against Hamburger SV.

De Bruyne ended the league season with 10 goals and 21 assists, the latter a new Bundesliga record, as Wolfsburg qualified for the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League. De Bruyne ended his breakout season with 16 goals and 27 assists and was named the 2015 Germany Footballer of the Year.

Manchester City

On August 30, 2015, Manchester City announced the arrival of De Bruyne on a six-year contract, for a reported club-record fee of £55 million, making him the second most expensive transfer in British football history. He made his debut on September 12 against Crystal Palace and on September 19, scored his first goal against West Ham United in an eventual 2–1 loss.

On October 20, 2015, the FIFA shortlisted him for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or award. On December 1, he scored a brace in a 4–1 win over Hull City to send Manchester City through to the semi-finals of the Football League Cup.

On April 12, De Bruyne scored the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain, advancing Manchester City to the Champions League semi-finals, for the first time in the club’s history, on an aggregate score of 3–2.

On September 10, 2016, De Bruyne scored and assisted in the first Manchester derby of the season which City won 2–1 and was awarded the Man of the Match. On September 17, De Bruyne was awarded the Man of the Match, in a 4–0 win over Bournemouth. On January 21, 2017, De Bruyne was involved in both of City’s goals, as he netted once himself and assisted in a 2–2 home draw with Tottenham Hotspur and was named Man of the Match.

On December 13, De Bruyne scored in a 4–0 away win over Swansea City, which extended their record run of consecutive top-flight wins to 15 games. On January 9, 2018, De Bruyne scored in a 2–1 win over Bristol City in the first leg of the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.

On January 22, De Bruyne signed a new long-term contract with the club, keeping him at the club until 2023. On January 31, he scored and assisted in a 3–0 win over West Bromwich Albion, and was voted BBC Man of the Match.

On February 25, he started in the 2018 EFL Cup Final against Arsenal, and played the whole 90 minutes, with Manchester City winning 3–0 to obtain their first piece of silverware of the 2017/18 season, and their first trophy overall under Pep Guardiola.

On March 31, 2018, he provided an assist in a 3–1 win over Everton, ensuring that City would require only one more win to secure the Premier League title. On May 13, De Bruyne assisted Gabriel Jesus’ winning goal in a 1–0 win over Southampton, which took champions City’s total points tally to 100. De Bruyne was also voted as BBC Man of the Match.

De Bruyne won the inaugural Premier League Playmaker of the Season award for his 16 assists registered across the league season. He was selected in the PFA Team of the Year, and was also voted as Manchester City Player of the Season.

In the FA Cup final against Watford, he scored the third goal and assisting two more, as City won the first-ever domestic treble in English men’s football. He was named Man of the Match.

On November 30, 2019, De Bruyne scored a half-volley in a 2–2 draw against Newcastle in the league and that strike was later voted as Premier League Goal of the Month for November. De Bruyne scored his 50th City goal in all competitions on February 26, 2020 in their 2–1 victory, over Real Madrid.

In the final Premier League match of the season, City beat Norwich City 5–0 at home. De Bruyne scored two goals and registered his 20th league assist, which equalled Thierry Henry’s record for the most assists in a season, and won his second Playmaker of the Season award.

In addition, he became the first player in history to reach twenty assists in a single season in two of Europe’s top five leagues. His long-range curler in that game also won him Premier League Goal of the Month for the second time in the season.

At the end of the season, he was awarded the Premier League Player of the Season after scoring thirteen goals, providing 20 assists and creating 104 chances from open play, the most for a player in any of Europe’s top five leagues since 2006.He was also named in the PFA Team of the Year and won the PFA Player of the Year award, becoming the first ever Manchester City player to win it.

On April 25, 2021, De Bruyne’s contributions allowed City to win 1–0 against Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup Final. On April 28, he scored a goal in a 2–1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League semi-finals. At the end of the season, he was awarded with the PFA Player’s Player of the Year.

On May 11, 2022, De Bruyne scored four goals inside 24 minutes in City’s 5–1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, his first hat-trick with the club and the third-quickest in Premier League history. De Bruyne was again bestowed with the Premier League Player of the Season award, becoming the fourth player to win the award more than once. He was also awarded Manchester City’s Player of the Year award for the fourth time, tying with Richard Dunne for the most Player of the Year awards at the club. He was chosen Ballon d’Or 3rd place in 2022.

(The author is an Associate Professor, International Scholar, winner of Presidential Awards and multiple National Accolades for Academic pursuits. He possesses a PhD, MPhil, and double MSc. His email is [email protected]