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The pride of Belgium

KOMPANY MAN: Belgium's skipper is proud of his team

BELGIUM’S DEFENDER captain Vincent Kompany has spoken of his pride in leading a new generation of national players.

“I'm proud of all of them”, said 26-year-old of his international team-mates. The Premier League has witnessed a gradual influx of Belgian footballing talent, including the likes of Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini and Eden Hazard.

“There are almost too many to name now, there are so many Belgian guys now in the Premier League. When I signed four years ago I was the first, then Fellaini came just after that and [Thomas] Vermaelen.

The former Anderlecht player is also happy the players are challenging national stereotypes: “We do sell a few beers as well, but we do have a few more things than chocolate and waffles!”

Belgium’s senior international side boasts nine players in England’s top division, and Kompany, who also is a Premier League winning skipper with Manchester City, thinks the league “has been a very good competition for Belgian players.”

The imposing centre-back now would like the successes of Belgian players at club level to translate into progress for his nation. “Not only do we showcase our talent in the Premier League”, he said, “but I hope at the international level as well now.

“The reason we just about didn't qualify for the Euros – even though we had big talents in the team – was because there is still a difference between success or performing every week at the top and supposedly being able to play at the top.

“The step has been made now by many players – [Jan] Vertonghen, Hazard, Dembele. There are so many players now that play at the top of the competition and that will add so much experience.”

The experience gained in bringing the first Premier League trophy The Etihad means Kompany is in a position to offer more for Belgium.

“At international level the teams that do well are the more disciplined and the more experienced”, he said. “By definition our team was very young so it was very difficult.

“Everybody knows I have big ambitions with Manchester City but everyone back home knows I have huge ambitions with my national team.

“We have a side now with Belgium who deserves success – not just because of the quality that is in the group, but because of the type of players we have.

“We have the character, the personalities.”


POINT TO PROVE: Teenager Romelu Lukaku on international duty

The Belgium team was considered by many as the best one not to make an appearance during the summer’s Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

In order to prove the new generation of exciting players can turn potential into winning performances, Kompany’s team is looking to beat Wales in their opening World Cup qualifier this evening.

“We'll know a lot about them and I presume Wales will know a lot about us”, Kompany said of his opponents.

One man hoping to get on tonight’s score sheet is Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku, who is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion. The 19-year-old forward cost the London club £18m last year, and is a Belgian playing to prove he can make difference in the Premier League.

Moreover, he knows he must show he has the ability to fill Didier Drogba’s boots if he is to make it with the European Champions.

The Welsh team, hit by several injuries, faces an emerging European force eager to make Belgium synonymous with football, not delicious culinary treats.

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