Written by Matt Ochs in 2013
Centre Back, #4, 28 Years Old
Edited by Johnny Salinas in 2015
As the 2014 World Cup approaches, many are looking to Belgium to be a dark-horse team that could advance very far into the tournament. They are currently experiencing what has been called their “golden generation” of football, boasting nearly an entire starting lineup of household names from the Barclay’s Premier League and other high profile soccer leagues in Europe. Though there are several players that could easily have an impact on Belgium’s performance next summer, the one that absolutely cannot be overlooked is the Center-back captain: Vincent Kompany. The child of a Congolese man and a Belgian woman, Kompany has become a well-known figure on and off the field. He serves as FIFA’s ambassador to Congo for the charity “SOS Children”, and he has also been very active philanthropically in Belgium by using soccer to aid underprivileged teens (SOS Children). Apart from his charitable work, his skill on the pitch has made him adored by millions of fans. He is known for his reliability and skill at the back, while at the same time having a versatile skillset so that he can also play well in the defensive midfield position (ESPN FC).
Image courtesy of: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/11217697.Scott_Wilson_Column__Man_City_s_all_round_excellence_proves_decisive_as_Premier_League_provides_thrills_and_spills_once_again/
Kompany began his career in the youth academy at Belgian club Anderlecht in 1992 at the age of six (Football Top). For Kompany to be chosen to the youth program of one of Belgium’s most prestigious clubs at such a young age must have meant that he exhibited a special skill for the game. After 11 years with the Anderlecht academy, Kompany made his first start with the first team (Football Top). Due to his overwhelming skill and toughness on the pitch, Kompany soon established a reputation for himself as a defensive stalwart. In his first three years on the team, he made 73 appearances and scored five goals (Football Top). In 2006, he made a transfer to German side Hamburg SV for a fee of £5.1 million (Skysports). Brought in to replace fellow Belgian center-back Daniel Van Buyten, expectations for Kompany at Hamburg were quite high. Unfortunately, after just six starts in the 2006 Bundesliga campaign, he was forced to end his season early due to an Achilles injury (ESPN FC). His time in Hamburg was not incredibly productive, but in the summer of 2008 he was bought by nouveau-riche English club Manchester City, where he currently plays (ESPN FC). At the time, City were on a spending spree throughout Europe. That summer, they bought Kompany along with other star players like Nigel de Jong, Craig Bellamy, Robinho, Pablo Zabaleta, and Shaun Wright-Phillips (Transfer Market). Playing on such a star-studded team, Kompany wasn’t originally viewed as one of the star players to watch. In fact, because of the several multi-million Euro transfers brought in by Manchester City that summer, Kompany was able to fly under the radar to his spot in the starting eleven. He started his City career primarily at the defensive midfield position, but because of his size, athletic ability, and soccer intelligence he was soon moved to his more natural center back position. He has since gained a reputation in the Premier League for being one of the smartest and most athletic defenders, which has given him international celebrity (Jones). Despite his ability to play has a stalwart in the defensive position, Kompany has the skill to attack every now and then. He scored his first goal for Manchester City on September 28, 2008 in a loss to Wigan Athletic. That season, he scored again at home against Portsmouth and once more at Burnley (ESPN Soccernet). In the 2010-2011 season, Kompany bolstered his resume with a “man of the match” performance in a home win against English powerhouse Chelsea FC. On April 16, 2011, Kompany captained the Manchester City side that defeated archrivals Manchester United in the FA Cup finals. Kompany’s form throughout the 2010-2011 season earned him praise from Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini “Vincent is incredible…he has a fantastic mentality, his attitude has been excellent- without doubt he has been one of our top players this year” (Casey). The following season, Kompany added to his already-impressive list of accolades by winning the Premier League Player of the Year (Sharma). Recently, Kompany has performed up to expectation, and his body of work over the past decade puts him on the short-list of most valuable defenders in Europe.
Image courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Vincent+Kompany/Belgium+v+Macedonia/FMbtveeu3W7
Kompany’s international career thus far has been quite successful as well, although certainly not to the extent of his club career. He made his international debut for Belgium at the age of 17, but he would not become a mainstay for the Belgian national squad for a few years. In 2008, he was called up for the Beijing Olympics, but contractual disputes between the Belgian FA and Hamburg SV forced Kompany to return to Germany after just one game in which he was sent off with a red card (Monsters and Critics). After what may seem like a rocky start to his international career, Kompany overcame various distractions and managerial conflicts to be named captain on November 10, 2011 (Morehead). Kompany captained his Belgian squad successfully through several World Cup qualification matches, including a particularly noteworthy one on June 7, 2013 against Serbia. In this 2-1 victory for the Belgians, Kompany sustained a gruesome injury to the face after a collision with Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković. After being bandaged up and returning to the game for the remaining hour, Kompany was taken to the hospital where it was determined that he had sustained a broken nose, a cracked eye socket, and a mild concussion (Inside World Soccer). The sort of grit and determination that Kompany displays on the pitch in every game makes him a valuable asset to his team and a truly irreplaceable talent.
Video- “Vincent Kompany broke his nose, but continued playing (Belgium-Serbia)
It is impossible to predict what the World Cup holds for this promising young Belgian team. With world-class players like Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini, and Romelu Lukaku, each Belgian game is guaranteed to be entertaining and worthwhile to watch. But for the Belgium bandwagon fan to truly understand why the small European nation will be so successful, one need not look further than Mr. Reliable in center back who is never afraid to take on the world’s deadliest strikers.
2014 FIFA World Cup Results
Having not been featured at the world cup for over a decade, the 2014 Belgium squad exited the world cup after falling to Argentina 1-0 in the quarter finals. The team compiled a 4-1 record winning every match during the group stages and after managing to knock out the U.S national team in a match that went into extra time. Vincent Kompany started and played every minute of each match except for Belgium’s final group match against South Korea due to a groin injury. Despite coming up short-handed, Vincent Kompany was able to lead a very talented Belgium squad to their second best world cup finish since 1984.
Click here to return to the Players to Watch home page.
Continue on to Group H – Republic of Korea: Sung Yong Ki
Group H – Algeria: Saphir Sliti Taider
Group H – Russia: Alan Dzagoev
Click here to return to the UEFA page.
Learn about Belgium’s National Anthem
How to cite this article: “X” Written by (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).
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