At the World Cup in Brazil, Belgium’s so-called “Golden Generation” of footballers appeared on a major international tournament for the very first time.
Premier League players like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini had been followed and admired for years, their reputation growing—in England as well as in Belgium—every single week.
Ultimately, this supposed Golden Generation did well, but not as good as some critics—who touted the Rode Duivels as potential dark horses ahead of the tournament—perhaps had hoped for.
Chelsea’s Hazard had an underwhelming tournament, and Lukaku, who was looked at to provide goals after Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke had suffered a serious injury in April, completely failed to show up.
One player, however, managed to demonstrate to the world that his reputation had not been exaggerated. It was a player who was under at least as much pressure as the aforementioned (and possibly more) considering the fact he was captaining his country.
That player was Vincent Kompany.
At the World Cup in Brazil, Kompany led excellent defensive efforts against South Korea and Russia in the group stage. In the knockout stage, Kompany and his companions kept Belgium’s defensive gates locked against Team USA, and they even prevented Argentina, who would later reach the final, from scoring for a long while in the quarter-final.
Some spectators found Belgium disappointing, some even concluded they were boring. These assertions may or may not be true, but it is important to remember that, above all, Belgium played a very disciplined game—especially defensively.
Kompany was the constitutive element in this defensive discipline. The solidity the Rode Duivels displayed at the back was made possible by Kompany's ability to make the right calls. Not only is Kompany an excellent defender, he is also a great leader.
It is no wonder he is not just captain of Belgium but also of Manchester City, a club that has been the subject of great change in recent years both on and off the pitch. While the chaos that comes with change reigned in the minds of some, Kompany became a constant and soothing factor in the blue side of Manchester.
This becomes clear when his actions on the pitch are studied as well. As the man in charge and the most important defender, Kompany has the ability to lead a defensive line high up the pitch. This is, of course, one of the most important skills to have for a modern day centre-back.
Outside of football, Kompany, who is considered by some to be one of the country’s most intelligent footballers, has displayed his leadership skills through considered contributions to various political debates going on in Belgium.
And apparently, we haven’t seen all of it yet. As we have seen at the World Cup, and in the past couple of years at Manchester City, Kompany is still growing and becoming a better and more mature footballer.
He is now amongst the best centre-backs in the world. Should he keep ascending, he can become the very best.
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