Kevin De Bruyne is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester City and the Belgium national team.
Considered one of the best players in the world, De Bruyne is known for his passing, vision, crossing and long-range shooting abilities. He has received numerous individual honors, including being named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Premier League Playmaker of the Season twice, and has been included in the PFA Team of the Year five times.
De Bruyne began his career at Genk before joining Chelsea in 2012. Limited opportunities at Chelsea saw him loaned to Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg, the latter whom he joined permanently in 2014.
At Wolfsburg, De Bruyne won the Footballer of the Year in Germany and provided a league-leading 21 assists in 2014–15. His performances attracted the attention of Manchester City, who signed him for £55 million in 2015.
At Manchester City, De Bruyne established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League and was instrumental in City’s domestic success under Pep Guardiola, winning the league title four times.
With the Belgium national team, he was a key figure in their resurgence, helping them to achieve a historic third place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Early Life and Career
Kevin De Bruyne was born on 28 June 1991 in Drongen, Belgium. He began his football career at the age of 5 when he joined local team KVV Drongen in 1996. He moved to Gent at the age of 8, where he continued his development for the next seven years.
In 2005, at the age of 14, De Bruyne was signed by Genk after being spotted by scouts. He made his first-team debut for Genk on 9 May 2009 at the age of 17 years and 10 months.
The 2009-10 season saw Kevin establish himself in the Genk team, making 32 league appearances and scoring 5 goals. His impressive performances earned him the Belgian Young Professional Footballer of the Year award.
Move to Chelsea
In 2012, Premier League giants Chelsea secured the signing of De Bruyne for a fee believed to be around £7 million. However, first-team opportunities were limited under managers Roberto Di Matteo and Jose Mourinho. He made just 3 league appearances in his first season at Chelsea.
The following season, De Bruyne was sent out on loan to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, where he made 33 appearances and scored 10 goals. His successful loan spell attracted attention from other clubs around Europe.
In January 2014, De Bruyne joined German club Wolfsburg for £18 million. The move proved to be an excellent one for the Belgian, as he went on to have a phenomenal season in 2014-15.
Playing as an attacking midfielder, De Bruyne scored 10 goals and produced a staggering 21 assists in 34 league matches as Wolfsburg finished second in the Bundesliga. His exceptional creativity earned him the Bundesliga Player of the Season award, as well as the division’s Assist Leader award.
Transfer to Manchester City
After making a name for himself in the Bundesliga, De Bruyne attracted interest from several top European clubs. In August 2015, Manchester City announced they had secured the signing of the Belgian star for a fee of £55 million, making him the second most expensive transfer in British football at the time.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini expressed his excitement about the new signing: “Kevin is a superb footballer, he has all of the mental, physical, tactical and technical attributes required to fit straight in.” De Bruyne was given the number 17 shirt.
Expectations and Pressure
The large transfer fee meant De Bruyne faced huge expectations and pressure to perform at City.
“When you go for so much money, you are expected to do well. I knew that. But I’ve always backed myself to do a good job. The price tag doesn’t bother me…I know people will always look at me through this £55m lens now – even if I play badly for a few games they will say I’m not good enough.” – De Bruyne.
Thankfully for City, De Bruyne quickly settled into the side and demonstrated his ability. He would go on to become one of the club’s most important players in the coming years.
Career at Manchester City
De Bruyne made an immediate impact in his first season at City, despite the team having an underwhelming campaign where they finished 4th and without a trophy.
He made 41 appearances and contributed an impressive 16 goals and 14 assists, showcasing his creative talents. De Bruyne provided the crosses for Sergio Aguero’s famous 93rd minute winner against QPR on the final day that confirmed City’s Champions League qualification.
In Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge, De Bruyne stepped up another level and was integral to City’s playing style under the new manager. He thrived in a slightly deeper midfield role and acted as the main creative fulcrum of the team.
Despite City finishing 3rd in the league, De Bruyne produced a stunning return of 18 goals and 23 assists in all competitions. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year and was also voted Man City’s Player of the Season by fans.
Premier League Winner 2017-18
The 2017-18 season saw De Bruyne reach new heights as he inspired Manchester City’s record-breaking Premier League triumph under Guardiola.
City earned 100 points and scored 106 goals with De Bruyne providing the creativity from midfield, contributing 12 goals and 21 assists in the league. He matched the Premier League record for most assists in a season.
De Bruyne’s standout performances saw him voted the PFA Player of the Year and win the Premier League Player of the Season award.
Domestic Treble 2018-19
Despite missing a lot of games through injury, De Bruyne returned and played a key role in the climax of Man City’s historic 2018-19 domestic treble winning campaign.
He scored the winning goal against Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and provided the assist for Gabriel Jesus’ winner in the FA Cup final against Watford.
In the final league game against Brighton, De Bruyne netted the only goal that confirmed back-to-back Premier League titles for City.
In the following years, De Bruyne remained a vital player under Guardiola, as City retained the Premier League crown twice more in 2020-21 and 2021-22. He also helped City reach the Champions League final in 2020-21.
While no longer reaching the extraordinary assist numbers of previous years, De Bruyne’s world class passing, vision and shooting from midfield continued to play a central role in City’s success.
By 2022-23, at the age of 31, he had made over 300 appearances for the club, scoring 89 goals, solidifying his status as a Man City legend.
Career Honors at Manchester City:
- 4 Premier League titles: 2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21, 2021-22
- 1 FA Cup: 2018-19
- 6 League Cups: 2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22
- 2 Community Shields: 2018, 2019
Signing a Long Term Contract
In January 2018, De Bruyne signed a contract extension, committing his future to Manchester City until 2023. This reflected his importance and improved status at the club.
Speaking on his new deal, De Bruyne expressed his happiness being at City:
“As soon as I came to this club, I felt at home. I feel loved by the fans. The style of football we play here suits me perfectly. My focus is just on Manchester City, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
In April 2021, he signed another two-year extension to keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2025.
Style of Play and Attributes
Kevin De Bruyne plays as an attacking midfielder, known for his exceptional passing range, vision, crossing accuracy and long-range shooting ability.
While capable of playing out wide, De Bruyne often occupies a central role where he can pull the strings and connect midfield with attack. From this position, he acts as the chief creator in the team, providing assists and key passes for teammates.
World Class Passing Ability
Passing is the hallmark of De Bruyne’s game. He has the technique, accuracy and intelligence to split open defenses with through balls for forwards to run onto, or find wingers in dangerous wide areas.
World Class Passing Ability (continued)
De Bruyne’s immaculate crossing ability from the right side is a particularly useful weapon that he has used to great effect providing assists for strikers like Sergio Aguero at Manchester City.
His passing stats speak for themselves. In the 2019-20 season, De Bruyne completed over 100 more passes into the final third than any other Premier League player.
Another strong aspect of De Bruyne’s attacking armoury is his powerful and accurate shooting, especially from distance. He is capable of testing goalkeepers with efforts from 25-30 yards.
His goals often come from cutting inside onto his right foot before unleashing low driven shots just outside the box. De Bruyne scored 4 goals from outside the box in 2019-20.
Vision and Game Intelligence
De Bruyne’s playmaking excellence stems from his expansive vision and ability to read the game. He consistently scans the field and makes quick decisions, spotting passes and openings that others simply don’t see.
His understanding of space, combinations and ability to anticipate the movement of teammates gives him an almost telepathic connection with the players around him.
Work Rate and Defensive Ability
While clearly most effective in attacking areas, De Bruyne also contributes in deeper roles. He has a tremendous work rate, often covering the most ground for Manchester City.
His defensive qualities are also strong – he can win back possession high up the pitch and has improved at tracking back to protect the defense as required.
Over time De Bruyne has emerged as an influential leader and senior figure at both club and country. He leads by example with his high work ethic and performance levels.
Younger teammates look to emulate De Bruyne and he makes those around him better players. Despite his elevated status, he remains modest and down to earth.
While best deployed as a number 10 or number 8, De Bruyne has shown his versatility by excelling out wide and even in deeper midfield roles on occasion.
This variability strengthens his teams as managers can trust him to maintain high standards wherever he plays.
Belgium National Team Career
De Bruyne was first selected for Belgium’s senior side in 2010 at the age of 19, making his debut in a friendly against Finland.
He made an immediate impact by scoring and assisting on his competitive debut in September 2012, a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Croatia. However, Belgium ultimately disappointed in that qualifying campaign.
De Bruyne became a starter for Belgium after the appointment of manager Marc Wilmots in 2012. He scored 4 goals in World Cup qualifying for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
2014 World Cup
Belgium entered the 2014 World Cup with their ‘Golden Generation’ expected to make an impact. With players like De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium were seen as dark horse contenders.
De Bruyne was instrumental, providing assists in all three of Belgium’s group stage wins before they were eventually eliminated by Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Euro 2016 Disappointment
At Euro 2016, Belgium were shockingly defeated 3-1 by Wales in the quarter-finals. De Bruyne described it as the lowest moment of his career thus far.
Despite being one of Belgium’s better performers, De Bruyne was criticized by some for the team’s failure to live up to expectations.
Appointed Vice Captain
In September 2016, De Bruyne was appointed vice captain of the Belgian national side. This recognized his growing leadership status and importance to the team.
De Bruyne credited manager Roberto Martinez with helping him become more vocal and communicative as a leader.
Bronze Medal at 2018 World Cup
Belgium and De Bruyne arrived at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with lowered expectations after struggling to qualify. But they would exceed all predictions by achieving their best ever finish at the tournament.
With De Bruyne pulling the strings from midfield, Belgium produced some scintillating attacking football to top their group with 9 goals scored.
He provided a superb equalizing goal against Japan in the Round of 16, before Belgium defeated tournament favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals. France eventually proved too strong in the semi-finals, but Belgium recovered to defeat England 2-0 and claim the bronze medal.
De Bruyne was named in the FIFA Team of the Tournament, capping off his best international campaign so far.
Euro 2020 – Quarter-final Exit
Hopes were high for Belgium and De Bruyne at Euro 2020, especially after his man of the match performance in their 2-1 win over Denmark in the group stage. But a disappointing 1-0 quarter-final loss to Italy saw them eliminated prematurely again.
An ankle injury hampered De Bruyne in that match, summing up his unfortunate history of injuries derailing major tournaments.
2022 World Cup Qualification
Despite turning 30 in 2021, De Bruyne remains the centrepiece of Belgium’s hopes entering the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and the tournament in Qatar.
He provided 5 assists in Belgium’s successful qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022, reaffirming his value to his national team.
Playing Style Compared to Attacking Midfield Greats
Like Zinedine Zidane, De Bruyne is an elegant midfield maestro who orchestrates attacks with his visionary passing and reads the game superbly.
Both have excellent close control, technical abilities, and the intelligence to exploit gaps between the lines. However, the Belgian plays more direct than Zidane’s often slower-paced style.
Similarities to Andres Iniesta
De Bruyne shares traits with the great Andres Iniesta in how he can effortlessly glide past opponents in midfield before executing defence-splitting passes.
Like Iniesta, De Bruyne has the low centre of gravity and quick feet to evade challenges and find space. His change of pace and ability to accelerate is reminiscent of the legendary Spaniard.
Iniesta was more prone to dribbling, while De Bruyne looks to pass more directly once in advanced areas. But both are extremely well-rounded, intelligent creators.
Contrasts with Xavi
While Xavi Hernandez also had wonderful passing range, De Bruyne is considerably more advanced and attack-minded than the deep-lying Spanish playmaker.
The Belgian’s game is focused on penetrating directly towards goal, compared to Xavi’s possession-focused, metronomic style. He attempts more incisive forward passes than Xavi who recycles possession and sustains attacks with his rhythmic short passing.
De Bruyne also offers more of a goal threat than Xavi ever did.
Kevin De Bruyne was born in Drongen, Ghent in Flanders, Belgium on 28 June 1991 to Herwig and Anna De Bruyne. His mother was an English translator and his father worked as an oil executive. He has a sister named Stefanie.
De Bruyne began playing football from a very young age, joining his first team at age 5. Despite his prodigious talent, Kevin was academically gifted as well, and could have pursued a career in medicine if he had not made it in football.
Family and Relationships
De Bruyne met his future wife Michele Lacroix while playing for Genk as teenagers. The couple married in 2017 after being in a relationship for 8 years. They have three children together – Mason Milian De Bruyne born in 2016, Rome De Bruyne born in 2018, and Suri De Bruyne born in 2019.
In 2014, while playing in Germany, De Bruyne began a long-distance relationship with Caroline Lijnen, however they broke up after it emerged he had secretly had a son with Lacroix.
De Bruyne likes to keep a low profile and not court media attention. He has described his private life away from football as very normal and boring. He enjoys relaxing with his family and also speaks fluent French.
The Manchester City midfielder uses his profile to support various charities and good causes.
In 2014, De Bruyne donated €100 to Skrol, a Flemish organization promoting youth development and opportunities. While at Wolfsburg, he made donations to children’s hospitals and schools in Germany.
At City, De Bruyne has been an ambassador for the club’s City in the Community programme which helps disadvantaged people in Manchester.
- Full Name: Kevin De Bruyne
- Date of Birth: 28 June 1991 (age 31)
- Place of Birth: Drongen, Ghent, Belgium
- Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
- Position: Attacking Midfielder
- Current clubs: Manchester City (2015–present), Belgium National Team (2010–present)
- Former clubs: Genk (2008–12), Chelsea (2012–14), Werder Bremen (loan 2012-13), Wolfsburg (2014–15)
- Achievements: Premier League champion (4), FA Cup, Champions League runner-up
Kevin De Bruyne’s journey from Belgian prodigy to global superstar has been remarkable. His meteoric rise from the humble beginnings at Genk culminated in big money moves to Chelsea and Manchester City, where he has become one of the Premier League’s greatest ever imports.
With his technical brilliance, visionary passing and standout productivity, De Bruyne has consistently produced assist and goal numbers that rank him among the elite attacking midfielders of his generation. Silverware has followed, with De Bruyne the centrepiece of extraordinarily dominant Manchester City sides under Pep Guardiola.
At international level with Belgium, the ‘Red Devils’ have also been propelled to new heights with De Bruyne as their talismanic leader and creator. While yet to win a major trophy with Belgium, back-to-back bronze and silver medals at World Cups points to a golden era with their Golden Generation.
Having recently turned 30, De Bruyne remains at the peak of his powers. His legacy as an all-time Premier League and Manchester City great is already assured. But there are likely more stunning seasons still to come from a player who continues to redefine attacking midfield excellence.
What number does Kevin De Bruyne wear?
Kevin De Bruyne wears the number 17 shirt for both Manchester City and the Belgian national team.
He was given the number 7 shirt when he first joined Chelsea, before taking the number 14 at Wolfsburg. Since joining Manchester City in 2015, De Bruyne has worn the number 17.
How many assists did De Bruyne get in the Premier League?
In the 2017-18 Premier League season, De Bruyne provided 16 assists, tying the record for most assists in a single season with Arsenal’s Thierry Henry.
In total, De Bruyne has provided 89 assists in the Premier League during his career so far, in 182 appearances up to February 2023.
What boots does De Bruyne wear?
Kevin De Bruyne is currently sponsored by Nike and wears Nike Mercurial boots.
Previously, between 2017 to 2022, De Bruyne wore Adidas X boots.
How many Premier League titles has De Bruyne won?
De Bruyne has won the Premier League title 4 times during his career:
- 2017-18 with Manchester City
- 2018-19 with Manchester City
- 2020-21 with Manchester City
- 2021-22 with Manchester City
So he has won 4 Premier League titles in total.
What is De Bruyne’s salary?
It is reported that Kevin De Bruyne earns around £385,000 (€450,000) per week in basic salary at Manchester City. With bonuses and image rights, his total annual earnings could exceed £20 million per year.
In January 2018, De Bruyne signed a contract extension with Man City until 2023. This made him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League.
What national team does De Bruyne play for?
Kevin De Bruyne represents the Belgian national team at international level. He made his debut for Belgium’s senior team in 2010 at age 19.
De Bruyne has over 90 caps and has scored 25 goals for Belgium. He was instrumental in their third place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Who did De Bruyne play for before Manchester City?
Before joining Manchester City in 2015, De Bruyne played for:
- Genk (Belgium) – 2008 to 2012
- Chelsea (England) – 2012 to 2014
- Werder Bremen (Germany, loan) – 2012 to 2013
- Wolfsburg (Germany) – 2014 to 2015
So he played in his native Belgium, Germany and England before establishing himself as a key player for Manchester City.