While Vincent Kompany, the Belgian skipper, is a revered figure amongst Manchester City supporters, the 28-year-old’s name suddenly made the headlines in India in the last week of May. Despite the news coming in the middle of the World Cup season, the reasons were entirely unrelated to football.
Kompany, who has been known to follow global politics — he follows Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Narendra Modi, on Twitter. The news made ripples on the web, with considerable space devoted to spirited musings on how Kompany joined the ‘Modi-wave’.
Much like his political preferences on social media, the lanky leader of Belgium’s backline is a multi-faceted personality. Kompany, son of a Congolese refugee and a Belgian mother, is currently pursuing a part-time MBA at the Manchester Business School.
He speaks five languages, owns two sports bars in Brussels and Antwerp named ‘Good Kompany’, has shares in a limousine service and has established a music and television production company labelled Bonka Circus.
The captain’s penchant for diversity off the field has seemed to rub off on his teammates as well. Simon Mignolet, Belgium’s second-choice keeper has a degree in political science while Nicolas Lombaerts, Kompany’s fellow centre-back, is a qualified lawyer.
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The six-feet four-inch Kompany, capped 59 times for Belgium, has been, rather predictably, nicknamed ‘the businessman’ by his Manchester City teammates. Even his performances for the the national side are just that — calculated. Kompany, who has four goals in 59 appearances for Belgium, is a colossus in defense for his side.
An adept defensive midfielder as well, Kompany gives the Belgium coach, Marc Wilmots, ample room to manoeuvre his forces. His all-round skills in a number of defensive positions ensures Belgium can supplement their already fearsome attacking arsenal with even more firepower.
Much has been written about the threat that Belgium will carry into Brazil. This is a team composed of players in their footballing prime or approaching it. The artistry and breathtaking skill of Eden Hazard combined with the technically astute Axel Witsel running the show from the centre of the pitch must have already sent a few shivers down their opponents’ spines.
The defence, which counts heavyweights like Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld and the wizened Daniel van Buyten, is capable of locking down games to protect a lead. Under Wilmots, the Belgians play a very flowing 4-3-3, fluidly moving the ball around, engineering incisive and swift attacks to catch their opponents out.
Kompany is the heartbeat of the side. Leading his troops into battle with the trademark cherubic smile rarely leaving his face, the 28-year-old’s industry and tenacity has been on show for quite some time now in the English Premier League. With Belgium playing their first major international competition in 12 years, it is time for Kompany and his merry band to make a splash on the big stage.